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Architecture of Diminished Resources: Placemaking in a time of crisis

November 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

As part of the series “Architecture of Diminished Resources” this session examines the role of Placemaking in a time of crisis.

*** Note: RSVP tickets are a registration of intent only. ***

One notable aspect of the 2020 virus pandemic is the way in which it brought into focus the social importance of public space. Now that we have been confined to home and “working remotely” for so long, we see how the limited contact we have via internet communication cannot supplant public open space as a social catalyst. The internet works as a social connector for a while, but there is a limit to how long we can do without social contact and live with sustained “social distancing”.

So perhaps another opportunity coming out of the pandemic will be a new appreciation of public space, perhaps the planning of our communities around public space rather than those places being an afterthought of other planning ideas. We are suddenly realizing the importance of human interaction, of our mutual dependency, and of the need for places for this to happen. Public places are the fundamental glue of neighborhood life. These places are capable of transcending differences in race, age and income if we plan them properly and manage and defend them well.

This short course offers an introduction to the theory and practice of creating successful public space. The curriculum includes:

1. History and Theory of PlaceThe theory and discourse about “place” and the methods and techniques for analyzing the public realm in cities. Readings and case studies illuminate the political, social, and ethical stakes of placemaking, drawing on theoretical writing in ethnography, anthropology, geography and planning.

2. Community EngagementHow can community members plan their neighborhoods and cities? What tools can practitioners and activists use to engage local people in complex planning processes? What are the opportunities and limitations of engaging the public in planning? A review of the theoretical and practical dilemmas of participation.

3. Observational Techniques and AnalysisTechniques for analyzing and understanding public space based on the work of William H Whyte, Jan Gehl and others.

4. Transportation: Pedestrian, Biking, carsWhat role does transportation and mobility play in public space? What is the future in terms of mass transit and automated vehicles?

5. WorkshopThe session will conclude with a workshop team exercise in the effective use of placemaking techniques in a specific (virtual!) location.


The cost of the event will be 550 AED General Admission / 300 AED for students. If you are interested in the course, please RSVP now. Note: RSVP tickets are a registration of intent only.

Registration will begin August 31st.



Dubai Design District
501 Building 4
Dubai, Dubai United Arab Emirates