Civic and Public Spaces

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This specialism considers how we can work in and with civic public space to address contemporary issues. It draws on disciplines such as urban geography, urban design and artistic performance to explore three important avenues:

  • How can we observe and document activities in public space?
  • How can we enable others to have their say?
  • And how can we use these insights to affect change in the public realm?

We will introduce you to a mix of conceptual ideas and applied methods from these different fields. You will notice that there are many overlaps, but also important differences in how these disciplines understand and research public space, for example which stakeholders are involved, or what data is being collected. The module will give you the skills to understand and evaluate various approaches, and to design and develop your own methods for your specific project.

This specialism will allow you to:

  • Plan and carry out different methods for understanding public spaces, such as public space assessments or walking drifts
  • Visualise particular aspects of place through maps, such as this community engagement map about active transport in Levenshulme, Manchester.
  • Design activities and frameworks for community dialogue and co-design approaches. For example, have a look at this write up of co-design activities and workshops in Lancaster for a green space behind the castle:

The module includes an introduction followed by three tutorials, on place-making, mapping and artistic urban methods. Each contains a mix of resources and at least one practical exercise. In some cases, there is a choice of topics or exercises – you are welcome to look at all of them to deepen your practice.