Please note that this NURSS Seminar will be held virtually via Zoom at the normal time [2 March 2022 (Wed), 19:00 p.m. HKT]
Please be ready 5 minutes prior to the scheduled time.
Urban streets function at the interface of mobility and public space. They tend to be planned exclusively for purposes of through-mobility, and yet they also perform as places for stationary activities such as standing in conversation, ball-play, contemplation, reading, single-location exercise, economic activity and more. Increasingly, street experiments have been activated as initiatives that challenge the dominant planning perspective that designates street space as space for mobility only (e.g. through the exclusive dedication to car-space, which is thus organized that other uses beyond the sidewalk become dangerous and/or illegal). Street experiments are temporary alterations of (parts of) street-space for alternative uses to the dominant one in the given location, usually including a restriction of private automobiles and an encouragement of sustainable transport modes and stationary activities. Their reasons are varied, often trying to incentivize more sustainable transport use (e.g. cycling, walking, skating, rollerblading, etc), but also creating spaces for children (and adults) to play and exercise, for green areas to emerge and/or for local residents to create stronger bonds, among other objectives. Through their experimental nature, these initiatives can be quite quickly implemented and often face less resistance from politics or local car-oriented residents, among other benefits. They allow a temporary experience that can inspire change, also for the longer term. Nevertheless, these experiments also face challenges and some warranted criticism, for example due to what can be called ‘the impertinence of impermanence’. The world is not black and white however, and so both the pros and cons can coexist and understanding them can help us find the appropriate spaces in which street experiments can champion their benefits without bringing too many drawbacks. This seminar will give an overview of the pros and cons of street experiments and give hints as to when, where and how they might be most appropriate. Hopefully there will also be space for joint debate to further explore possibilities.
About the Speaker
Dr. Kim Carlotta von Schönfeld is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Research on Culture, Space and Memory at the University of Porto, Portugal. She is interested in critically but constructively bridging the fields of urban and regional planning, mobility, geography, governance, post-growth economics, psychology, critical innovation studies, international development, futuring, and third cultures. Her PhD thesis – defended at Wageningen University in 2021 – explored the benefits and drawbacks of social learning in co-creative planning processes, engaging a psychology-based lens. Throughout her work, she has repeatedly returned to the theme of mobility as a key factor in enabling (or constraining) other activities; and is passionate about reflecting on the role of streets as public space. She holds a BSc in Human Geography and Planning and a Research Master’s in Urban Studies from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
~~ ALL INTERESTED ARE WELCOME ~~
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CENTRE OF URBAN STUDIES AND URBAN PLANNING
THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG