Tactical (New) Urbanism comes of age @ CNU 21
Tactical, Guerrilla or DIY Urbanism — whatever you call it, the concept is catching on like wildfire. A number of factors have spurred the quick rise of the idea — citizens energized by new technologies and trends that more easily facilitate civic engagement; locals frustrated with municipal inaction; and governmental funding shortfalls caused by the economic recession that have made “change” and “progress,” in their traditional forms, hard to come by.
Tactical Urbanism is loosely defined as inexpensive, individual projects that make small places more lively and enjoyable. Whether done by individuals, local organizations or fostered by local governments, tactical urbanism engages people directly, in the public realm, to visibly and quickly enhance some aspect of their community. The major advantage is that the improvements don’t take years of planning and public meetings to get done: it’s “rendering in real time” and “planning without the preponderance of plans.”
CNU 21: Living Community features leaders of the tactical urbanism movement in a number of breakout sessions offering best practices and new approaches. In the eponymous breakout session Tactical (New) Urbanism, Mike Lydon (Street Plans Collaborative and lead author of Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action, Long-term Change Vol.1 and Vol. 2) is joined by urban and tech pioneers to examine the latest tools of civic engagement and practical urban design. Together they explore case studies and explain best practices for this nimble and efficient form of urbanism.
In Tactical Urbanism 202, a 3-hour workshop on Wednesday, May 29, Lydon is joined by leading tacticians to share insight into what Planetizen and Urban Times named one of the top planning trends of 2012. Beyond presenting an overview of the history, trends, and leading case studies, workshop leaders will train participants to undertake their own tactical urbanism initiatives, from ideation to funding, implementation to evaluation.
Tactical Urbanism allows many local actors to iteratively test new concepts before making long-term political and financial commitments. It’s the “new New Urbanism,” as Andrés Duany has suggested, and perhaps the embodiment of urbanism in times of austerity and innovation.
Tactical Urbanism is also featured as the theme for two Academic Paper sessions at CNU 21.
Attendees will also get a chance to explore the Granary, a former industrial space that is in the process of transforming into a retail and public urban space through sessions, tours and at the CNU closing party.
Note: This article is in the April-May 2013 print edition of Better! Cities & Towns.