Temporary UrbanismErika Mayer // University of FloridaApril 2013During these rough economic times, cities and towns across the globe are dotted with vacant lots, unfinished projects developers have pulled out of, projects on hold for years…Even cities with high land value, such as New York, have empty parcels- just waiting, leaving a void in the urban fabric of neighborhoods, an eye sore to those who see it on a daily basis. But what if something could fill that void? Even if it was only temporary until more concrete plans were set in motion? What if you could turn that void into a pop-up park, an impromptu farmers market, an art show, installation, a café, a music venue…? Temporary urbanism is the exciting notion that we don’t have to live withthese voids, they can be filled, even if just temporarily. We don’t have to wait for developers to come in with money; we don’t have to depend on bureaucratic processes to shape our cities. It is possible to re-stitch the fabric of our communities and fulfill the immediate needs and desires of our neighborhoods. With temporary urbanism gaining traction in cities around the country, what seemed like a far reach years ago is now a possibility.Temporary urbanism goes by many names including, tactical urbanism, temporary use,the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” movement (LQC), temporiums, and guerilla urbanism-- it isthe temporary use of vacant structures or underused land that has no eminent development plans. (Lehtovuori, p. 2) This concise definition encompasses a wide rangeof variation in form- from actions such as art or musical performances to concrete expressions such as pop-up retail shops. It is incremental development and change from the bottom up that is community- driven and focused. (Ash)“Temporary urbanism goes beyond exhorting what shouldbe done. It focuses onwhat CAN be done by creating tangible—if temporary—alternatives to the status-quo. The temporary nature of these transformations enable citizens to think ‘outside the block’ and use the spaces as testing grounds for new ideas about urban living. In the process, it encourages cities to move beyond developers’ empty lots (and promises) and engage residents about their city’s future.” (Artibise)
Historically speaking, temporary urbanism has been around for sometime, from carnivals and artist squatters, to night vendors and street hawkers. (McKone) People have been organically shaping their spaces from the bottom up for a while now. Medieval cities were great examples of people shaping their spaces based on what they needed and with the resources they had available, little by little, organically. In the same way, temporary urbanism offers communities a way to shape their neighborhoods based on what they need and with the resources available to them- to foster the vernacular landscape unique to their communities.