CONTESTING URBAN PUBLIC SPACE AS COMMONS - A study on the common usage of public parks in Barcelona-Sants

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Urbanisation is one of the major trends in globalisation. An influx of heterogenous urban dwellers to a densely built urban environment contains potential for conflicts. With increasing heterogeneity, public space in cities becomes the site of multicultural confrontation. Creating public space that is fairly and equally contributed and that guarantees equal access for everyone is thereby a key challenge in urban planning. This thesis investigates the meaning of public space in a post-industrial working-class neighbourhood and aims to understand public space as an Urban Commons. Based on a case-study design, two public parks located in Barcelona-Sants are examined according a theoretical frame combining the understanding of parks as Urban Commons with the Urban Design concept of spaces of in-betweenness. The thesis investigates, first, the spatial attributes of the parks, and, second, how those spatialities contribute to the commoning of those parks. Central is thereby the question how people access, enclosure and behave in spaces that do not directly indicate a certain use of that space. Through a methodology of direct observation, the thesis contributes to the literature on public life that understands social processes in strong interrelation with the physical space. It is exploring the possibilities of top-down provided public space to become common space that is creatively used by the residents and reflecting the local identity by applying a socio-spatial analysis.

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