Rites of Way
211 pages
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211 pages


There are many ways to approach the subject of public space: the threats posed to it by surveillance and visual pollution; the joys it offers of stimulation and excitement, of anonymity and transformation; its importance to urban variety or democratic politics. But public space remains an evanescent and multidimensional concept that too often escapes scrutiny.

The essays in Rites of Way: The Politics and Poetics of Public Space open up multiple dimensions of the concept from architectural, political, philosophical, and technological points of view. There is some historical analysis here, but the contributors are more focused on the future of public space under conditions of growing urbanization and democratic confusion. The added interest offered by non-academic work—visual art, fiction, poetry, and drama—is in part an admission that this is a topic too important to be left only to theorists. It also makes an implicit argument for the crucial role that art, not just public art, plays in a thriving public realm.

Throughout this work contributors are guided by the conviction, not pious but steely, that healthy public space is one of the best, living parts of a just society. The paths of desire we follow in public trace and speak our convictions and needs, our interests and foibles. They are the vectors and walkways of the social, the public dimension of life lying at the heart of all politics.



Publié par
Date de parution 08 septembre 2009
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781554581672
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Published in conjunction with theLiterary Review of Canada, Canadian Commentaries features prominent writers exploring key issues affecting Canadians and the world. A lead essay commissioned by theLRC becomes the ground for responses by others, opening a place for a spec-trum of views and debate.
We welcome manuscripts from Canadian authors. For further informa-tion, please contact the Series Editor:
Dr. Janice Gross Stein Director, Munk Centre for International Studies University of Toronto 1Devonshire Place Toronto, ONm5s 3k7 Canada Phone:(416) 9468908 Fax:(416) 9468915 Email: j.stein@utoronto.ca
Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel, editors
RITES OFWAY The Politics and Poetics of Public Space
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing pro-gram. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program for our publishing activities.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Rites of way : the politics and poetics of public space / Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel, editors. (Canadian Commentaries series) Includes bibliographical references and index. Issued also in electronic format. isbn 9781554581535 1. Public spaces.2. Public spaces—Political aspects.3. Public spaces—Social aspects. I. Kingwell, Mark,1963– II. Turmel, Patrick,1976Series: Canadian– III. Commentaries series na9053.s6r575 2009 307.1'216 c20099036916
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Rites of way [electronic resource] : the politics and poetics of public space / Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel, editors. (Canadian Commentaries series) Includes bibliographical references and index. Electronic edited collection in PDF, ePub, and XML formats. Issued also in print format. isbn 9781554581672 1. Public spaces.2. Public spaces—Political aspects.3. Public spaces—Social aspects. I. Kingwell, Mark,1963– II. Turmel, Patrick,1976– III. Series: Canadian Commentaries series na9053.s6r575 2009 307.1'216
Cover photograph by Lisa Klapstock: detail ofBeige Cube Chair(from the Living Room series),2002. Cover design by Blakeley Words+Pictures. Text design by C. Bonas-Taylor.
©2009Wilfrid Laurier University Press Waterloo, Ontario, Canada www.wlupress.wlu.ca
The excerpt fromPrivate Jokes, Public Places, by Oren Safdie, is used with the permission of the playwright. The play was first published by Playwrights Canada Press. The excerpt fromHow Insensitive, by Russell Smith, is reprinted with the permission of the Porcupine’s Quill. The novel was originally published by the Porcupine’s Quill in1994. The four excerpts fromOccasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, by Lisa Robertson, are reprinted with the permission of the author. The photographs on the part-opening pages—Girl Falling(page1),Synagogue, Montreal(page27),Crime Scene(page69), and132Berry Road(page121)—are reproduced with the permission of the photographer, Robin Collyer. Robin Collyer is represented by the Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto.
This book is printed on FSC recycled paper and is certified Ecologo. It is made from100%post-consumer fibre, processed chlorine free, and manufactured using biogas energy. Printed in Canada Every reasonable effort has been made to acquire permission for copyright material used in this text, and to acknowledge all such indebtedness accurately. Any errors and omissions called to the publisher’s attention will be corrected in future printings. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll free to18008935777.
vii Acknowledgements
ix Introduction: Rites of Way, Paths of Desire Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel
PART I 3Masters of Chancery: The Gift of Public Space Mark Kingwell 23We Wuz Robbed Joe Alterio
PART II 29Public Space: Lost and Found Ken Greenberg 47Architecture and Public Space Alberto PérezGómez 55The Enduring Presence of the Phenomenon of “the Public”: Thoughts from the Arena of Architecture and Urban Design George Baird 63Private Jokes, Public Places: An Excerpt Oren Safdie
PART III 71Holistic Democracy and Physical Public Space John Parkinson 85Public Spaces and Subversion Frank Cunningham 101Take to the Streets! Why We Need Street Festivals to Know Our Civic Selves Shawn Micallef 113How Insensitive: An Excerpt Russell Smith
PART IV 123Beauty Goes Public Nick Mount 137Protect the Net: The Looming Destruction of the Global Communications Environment Ron Deibert 151The City as Public Space Patrick Turmel 165… walks from the office for soft architecture Lisa Robertson
179Contributors 183Index
Our thanks to the contributors, whose distinctive and insightful inter-ventions have made for a book we hope will significantly advance the debate about public space. This collection is part of a series called Cana-dian Commentaries. We have certainly included Canadian voices and Canadian experiences in what follows. But the subject of public space is, like Canada’s own cities and spaces, beyond restriction to a given nation, and so we also embrace work that makes connections to other sites, par-ticularly ones in the United States and Britain. Books, especially antholo-gies, are public spaces in their own conversational fashion; we hope that the experience of reading this one will be like walking along the streets of a diverse, robust, stimulating urban neighbourhood. Thanks to Bronwyn Drainie at theLiterary Review of Canada, who commissioned the original essay on public space which, now revised, appears here. At Wilfrid Laurier University Press we were pleased to work with Brian Henderson, Leslie Macredie, Clare Hitchens, and Rob Kohlmeier. They have made our lives easy in ways too numerous to mention. Julien Levac transcribed the sections of the book not available in electronic form (the excerpts from Robertson, Safdie, and Smith); Matthias Piché-Perron standardized the manuscript, which, in the man-ner of the day, arrived in numerous formats and styles; and Julien Delangie compiled the extensive index. Apart from the fictional excerpts and Kingwell’s lead essay, the only text that was previously published is Nick Mount’s essay on public beauty, which appeared in
a slightly different form inQueen’s Quarterly. Our thanks to Boris Castel, the editor there and a tireless champion of public discourse, for per-mission to use it here.
INTRODUCTION Rites of Way, Paths of Desire
he architectural theorist christopher alexander, in his monumental1977workA Pattern Language, traces what we T might call thepaths of desirethat operate in buildings, walkways, towns, and cities. The “pattern language” of Alexander’s thought is the new way of tracing those paths, allowing room for them, respecting the human interest in movement, solitude, complex-ity, stimulation, work, and rest. Though lately more appreciated by rene-gade computer programmers than workaday architects and urban planners, this is a language that, like the natural languages of our speech, allows individuals “to articulate and communicate an infinite variety of 1 designs within a formal system which gives them coherence.” Alexander and his colleagues examined and illustrated some250 different aspects of this language, many of them to do with the subject of the book you hold in your hands. In particular, these thinkers were adept at plotting transitions from public to private, noting that this is never a simple or linear threshold but, often, a staggered, funnelled, or terraced series, with step-downs and in-between areas—porches, vestibules, gardens, walkways, and arcades—that complicate, stutter, and please our movement between realms. (Such thresholds are also the sub-ject of some previous work of one of the editors, just as justice in the city 2 has been explored by the other.) But perhaps the most striking of the public-space insights inA Pattern Languagecomes at No.94, “Sleeping in Public.”