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Global Space, Contested Space? The case of the ‘new’ London squares
Professor Matthew Carmona and Dr Filipa Wunderlich’s ESRC-funded project investigates the phenomenon of ‘new’ London square. “Global Place Contested Space? The case of the ‘new’ London squares” intends to achieve a better understanding of the dominant critiques of public space in a northern European context by gauging if and how they relate to the design, development and subsequent use and management of new public spaces in London. The project emerged from a joint interest in the ways in which urban policy instruments often emphasise the potential of public spaces as weapons in the arsenal of global and local inter-city competition, as catalysts for urban renewal and as arenas for community revitalisation and participatory local democracy. Yet the academic literature is replete with critiques of public space for being privatized, corporate, commercialised, exclusionary, and simply cheap. On the face of it, the critiques are damning of contemporary public space. London embodies the ideal context in which to study these critiques and the resurgence of the urban square as a distinctive morphological type offers a valuable focus for a study of whether or not the increasing emphasis on public space design and management is likely to deliver the benefits envisaged for it in public policy. In the process, the study will assess how key stakeholders engaged in, and benefit from, the processes of space creation, with what resources, through which partnerships, and ultimately for what ends.
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