Author: Elisabet Olle and Noah Allison
Title: Reimagining Los Angeles' Public Sphere
Category: Justice & equity
Description: While urban planners like spaces to be rationally ordered and controlled, in many cities around the world, insurgent spatial practices operate outside of regulatory regimes. These quotidian, unsanctioned, and unscripted activities occupy or adopt ordinary spaces in routine and sometimes unexpected ways, bringing new meanings and unforeseen functions to places. In some cities, street vendors and restaurateurs, for example, formally and informally appropriate street corners, sidewalks, and parking lots on a regular basis to provide basic and necessary services to city dwellers. They are significant parts of the economic and social life. As Covid-19 has forced brick and mortar businesses to reconfigure Los Angeles’ public realm—the potential to permanently transform the city’s most underutilized public sphere comes to the fore. Architects, urban designers, and planners therefore need to pay attention to the ways ordinary people use the cracks and fissures of cityscapes. They must creatively look to the spaces that may not necessarily be considered “proper places” of the city. Ultimately, permanently activating the nooks and crannies of the built environment for temporary urban use will not only help to create more spatial affordances for marginalized groups, but will cumulatively transform the city into a more just place.