There’s a repeating theme I’ve noticed over the last few years’ worth of changes in various cities, something that might be called the “oh, wait” moment. An old, old one we’ve mentioned before is the sidewalk curb-side “notch” which was originally popularized after the second world war when there was a surge of people in crutches and wheel chairs who needed sidewalks to be more accessible but oh, wait… it’s also proven super useful for the elderly and for parents pushing strollers. Recently it’s increased bike paths and pedestrian streets to give people some room during the pandemic but oh, wait… it’s actually appreciated year-long and not only good for active mobility but also for the business of surrounding cafes, restaurants and shops.
Sometimes articles don’t necessarily bring new facts, but they attach some exiting ideas together in a useful synthesis. This is what this article on people not returning to the office is doing. We already know that on typical days offices are still sitting half-empty, “the Kastle Back to Work Barometer currently hovers around just 41%.”
The second edition of Further afield, where we look at some ideas that are perhaps a bit further afield than our usual focus but that can inform our thinking on cities from a broader perspective.
Pop-up spaces are not a new thing (even the article we’re linking to is two+ years old), but few are well done, fewer still are not incubating retail spaces, but it’s even more unique to find a group that does multiple projects over a few years. That’s what the CultureHouse have been doing, turning pop-up spaces into social infrastructure.
This great piece by Sheila Foster, From Vacancy to Decommodification: Co-Cities and the Enabling State, was part of a symposium on decommodifying urban property, held by the LPE Project (Law and Political Economy). In it, Foster shows how the commodification of property can be replaced by a community-oriented vision, and how homes and shared resources can be managed in land trusts, instead of as private property dealt on the speculative market.