A new manifesto for public space was started this week at the University of Greenwich. Students and tutors from the MA Landscape Architecture and MSc Advanced Landscape and Urbanism programmes began writing a public space code for London.
The public space code, inspired by Michael Sorkin’s Local Code (1993), is being collectively written in 140-character Tweets. The aim is to establish a Department of Public Space for London which brings people together to define future public spaces.
Public spaces codes written so far, by students and other Londoners, have included straightforward demands, such as ‘All #LondonPublicSpaces must display a sign “this is a public space” in order to dispel all doubts’ along with questions for how we may live in the future: ‘Public Space is where people do their own private things #LondonPublicSpaces’
The premise of the manifesto is that London’s public spaces are uncoordinated in access, use, ownership, design, production and operation across the city’s 32 boroughs. Despite central government policy initiatives (Towards and Urban Renaissance) and metropolitan scale agendas (Manifesto for Public Space) the potential of these spaces for actions, events and discourses is left unfulfilled.
The project imagines a future Department of Public Space for London as a collaborative open-source platform for speculating on a public space code for new and existing public spaces across the city. Other infrastructures of water, energy and transportation are coordinated by government agencies or are overseen by regulators. But in the context of contrasting forms of public space, from civic squares to privately owned parks, is the Greater London Authority, the local councils, commercial developers or other agencies the appropriate governors of London’s public spaces? At the end of the year the in-progress manifesto will be collated, published and presented to the Mayor of London.