Protests & the Public Square – a note from an NCSU alum

Hey All;

Hope all is good back in NC. So I’m sure there has been discussion of this already in your courses, but in the midst of the upheaval and massive shifts taking place in the Middle East, it may be interesting to start a discourse about the role of the public square, urban design, and protest/revolution. Tahrir Square in Cairo, Pearl Square in Manama (Bahrain), May 1 Square in Algiers — they have been the epicenter of these revolutions, symbolically and literally. What roles have these public squares played throughout history? How does their physical design enable these protests to be choreographed? How has the context of these squares played a role? May even be an interesting final project to explore for someone?

Personally, this subject is interesting to me because all of our firm’s projects are in the Middle East, and most are in Cairo. While these events have caused a bit of a bump in the road for us, it looks like it will be beneficial in the long run — Cairo and Alexandria are already having discussions of redeveloping their public spaces, not only as a strategy to increase tourism, but also to increase the amount of democratic space and pride in the city.

Here’s some links to check out. Dave, maybe they can be used on the SHIFT blog:
From Urban Omnibus, ‘Liberation Squares’ – http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/02/liberation-squares/
Urban Design and Civil Protest – http://www.designobserver.com/media/pdf/Dispatch__–___492.pdf
http://www.urbandesign-civilprotest.com/protest.htm

Best,

Jordan Petersen, LEED AP, ASLA
Landscape Designer, Argos Design Inc

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