7. Space Hacking


But it’s not enough to just build more plazas and expect people to show up and sit on the benches provided, especially when these plazas are often not true public spaces. Particularly troubling is the growing trend towards privatizing what would appear to be a public space. Commercial shopping districts, playing on our sense of nostalgia, increasingly emulate traditional public spaces of the past while simultaneously limiting the potential for public use (see Fig. 7). Instead of fostering complex and multi-dimensional interactions between a diverse group of people, commercialized pseudo public space seeks to minimize conflict and maximize order and monetary gain (Hou 6).

Fig. 7 Americana at Brand

Like the designed object, so singular in its form and function, these so-called public spaces are ripe for the hacking. The rigid and lifeless structures of the regulated city leave little room for personally meaningful outcomes that adapt to the complex goals of the people. Perhaps this is why we’re seeing people in cities around the world starting to reshape their urban landscape between the structures to suit their own needs and desires, and at a greater scale. With the help of networked technologies more people are able to find ways to intentionally come together throughout these in between spaces. While these gatherings are ephemeral and sporadic they serve as a tool to chip away at the officially sanctioned uses and open the door for new possibilities, inspiring others to find new ways to engage in their own world around them. Free from the bureaucracy of official rules and regulations, citizens take ownership of their urban environment. This form of guerrilla urbanism “recognizes both the ability of citizens and opportunities in the existing urban conditions for radical and everyday changes against the dominant forces in the society” (Hou 15).

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