Tactical Urbanism

For a problem of intriguing complexity, look no further than the contemporary city.  Home to two-thirds of the world’s population, modern cities — gloriously diverse cultural, innovation, and artistic hubs, and often refuges for those who seek opportunity or escape from restrictive worlds — are nonetheless contested, even violent, grounds, spatially embodying social, political, and economic exclusion.  This class considers and then employs an emerging “Right to the City” challenge to the status quo of urban power dynamics:  tactical urbanism.  Citizen-led, and in some cases arising out of urban social movements, these interventions are sometimes transgressive, sometimes sanctioned and respectful, demonstrations of the transformative power of the temporary construction. Tactical urban interventions are of many types and disciplines, from the creation of temporary public squares to street art and graffiti to recurring demonstrations and other performances. Through the collaborative design and documentation of our own tactical urbanistic intervention in Washington, DC, we will seek to understand the possibilities and limits of this approach in moving the world towards more just and inclusive global cities.  For background, we will draw on case studies and a rich assortment of historical and contemporary sources, from examples of urban film, music, philosophy, and literature to theories and case studies of urban planning and form.