Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Skateboarding is what planners and architects have sometimes referred to as an "urban pathology."

The Poetics of Security: Skateboarding, Urban Design, and the New Public Space
by Ocean Howell

Skateboarding is a thorn in the side of landscape architects, planners, and building owners; so much so that there are now design workshops that teach a series of defensive architectural tactics for deterring the activity. The type of skateboarding that plagues these architects and the spaces they create, "street skating," has only existed for about 15 years, and in fact was born out of the barren, defensive spaces created by redevelopment. Viewed in this light, it is clear that street skating is not only an impetus for defensive architecture, but also a symptom of defensive architecture. Recognizing that redevelopment spaces fostered pathologies, cities and corporations have begun to build more friendly spaces in the past couple of decades. But they have been careful to ensure that the spaces are only friendly to a select subset of the public, namely office workers and consumers. To create such spaces requires knowledge of the minutest details of undesirable behaviors—a knowledge that can only be gleaned through surveillance. Because the resultant spaces appear open but exclude the vast majority of the citizenry, they represent a restrictive discourse of publicness. Although the destructive effects of skateboarding have been exaggerated, the purpose of this essay is not to argue that skateboarding should be permitted in public space. It is by virtue of its status as a misuse of these spaces—and because it is a symptom of defensive design—that skateboarding is exceptionally good at drawing attention to the quietly exclusionary nature of the new public space. Ultimately, skateboarding affords an observer glimpses of the larger processes of surveillance and simulation by which public space, both physical and cultural, is produced.


No comments:

Free Hit Counter