“The event will result in an alternative city guide. And we intend to keep it alive.”
We welcome researchers and practitioners from fields such as urban studies, planning, communication studies, geography, architecture, as well as active citizens, policy makers to an exploration that is somewhat out of the ordinary. Along five thematic routes we will engage with public spaces in Amsterdam and their challenges. The aim is to develop an alternative city guide, that is also addressing questions of empowerment and ownership. The event challenges the traditional academic conference format – rather than having a series of paper presentations, participants will learn, and use their research and daily experiences to reflect on the main challenges that underpin the thematic routes.
The event is part of the AESOP series “Unstable geographies, dislocated publics” of the AESOP Thematic Group Public Space and Urban Cultures. AESOP is a European network of researchers, teachers and practitioners in the field of planning and design.
Participants will trace the stories behind innovative appropriations of public space, identify related dilemmas and formulate research questions. Prior to the event, we will liaise with locals to design an alternative city guide inspired by a set of broad, yet timely themes. We will dwell on the challenges locals are confronted with, and the interventions they envision as potentially enriching the city. When presented with the opportunity to consult a broad, experienced and interested audience, what are the questions they would like to raise? The resulting city guide will enable the event participants to experience local everyday practices through thematic tours, which present alternative narratives of the city.
During the thematic tours, targeted interventions and exercises co-designed with local participants will provide opportunities for debate and reflection. How do these interventions ‘perform the place’ and alter/disrupt/enhance relationships? The combination of activities will shed light on questions of learning, ownership and empowerment, as well as setting the scene for future explorations and revisions of the alternative city guide. Here, public space is playground in a broad sense – we learn and reflect by seeking connections with locally active people and designed objects not just as ‘quick’ passers-by, but as observers and participants, and by conducting Action Research. The explorations performed during the conference aim to unpack the complex character of current and emergent urban challenges, to address those challenges both within community forums and plenary sessions, and to enable further learning and collaborative projects through the use of an open access data platform.