Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Designing a city for safe protests

Date:
February 25, 2011
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Recent events in Egypt proved that large urban spaces are essential to the healthy expression of civil dissent. Architects and city planners should design useful and effective spaces to allow for widespread assembly and civil participation, experts say.

Civil protests, from peaceful sit-ins at the Pentagon to violent riots in Cairo, nonetheless share some common characteristics. To study how protests evolve in public spaces, Dr. Tali Hatuka, an architect and head of Tel Aviv University's Laboratory of Contemporary Urban Design, has dissected some of the world's most publicized protests -- those in Washington, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Beijing, and Leipzig.

History shows that protests and civil disobedience are inevitable and necessary expressions of dissent in any democratic nation -- and under many authoritarian regimes. From the perspective of urban planning, Dr. Hatuka's research provides insight into the tactics and strategies taken by activists and how their protests can be made more effective.

While the nature of each protest can be quite different and culture-specific, she says, there are some basic elements that can help define the social and spatial characteristics of a good protest.

Some of her recent research is reflected in her recent exhibit, "Urban Design and Civil Protest," at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Get on your soapbox

Dr. Hatuka says that collective actions do not need a specially designed or designated space. When there is a collective will, protesters will find a way to bypass physical barriers, such as when protesters hijacked the city's highways in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2002. But some city planners can actually promote civil participation by addressing the role of public spaces more effectively. The arrangement of these spaces plays a significant role in mediating conflicts and injecting new ideas to society -- politically and culturally.

Dr. Hatuka recommends that urban planners create both a formal space for protests, like a civic square, and a number of informal spaces scattered throughout a city, like parks. Governments should encourage citizens to use them as a vehicle for freedom of speech, in the manner of Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park. All individuals should have equal access to these spaces. Scale is also important, she adds. "When Americans wish to protest, they do not immediately run to the Mall in Washington," she notes. "Sometimes a small venue will work well too."

And while Big Brother may be watching, surveillance isn't always negative, especially if it's democratically managed, Dr. Hatuka says. Surveillance serves regimes, but it can serve protesters too, warning of the onset of violence.

Violence is the most negative outcome of any protest, as recent events in Egypt prove. Its threat is a nightmare for protest organizers. "Organizers lose participants as well as the support of the spectators -- both real and virtual," Dr. Hatuka says. "However, even in non-democratic regimes, mass non-violent actions can be successful. With a sense of safety, the participants can create an imagined community and attract more participants."

Public spaces in urban areas should also be designed to be more media-friendly, so journalists and cameramen can safely access and cover protests as they unfold.

Building a space for democracy

While oppressive regimes seek to reduce access to effective protest space, a specific space for protest is a positive way to promote freedom of speech. "I am trying to demonstrate that urban planners can promote a more healthy democracy. I hope to influence and inspire urban planners of the future as well as the citizens of today," Dr. Hatuka says about her latest exhibit.

"As the recent events in Cairo suggest, a protest space doesn't have to be nice or well-designed. A large-scale protest like this has shown that people will just hijack the streets and the roads. Public spaces are the only place in which people feel truly, physically unified. With so many protests going online, the physical element is critical for enhancing society's sense of togetherness and solidarity."

Support for the research was provided by the Marie Curie European Community Program (FP6, FP7), the Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Designing a city for safe protests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122300.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2011, February 25). Designing a city for safe protests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122300.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Designing a city for safe protests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122300.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins