A month or so back I heard a terrific interview with Terry Schwartz, a planner at Kent State University in Ohio who runs a KSU's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. Terry is a great advocate for creative uses of currently underutilized urban spaces in Cleveland (a cluster of projects associated with CUDC has taken place on bridges, under overpasses and includes events like temporary markets, winter festivals, skate parks.)
Detroit like Cleveland faces what can be described as the evil twin challenges of too few people and too much space. Reflecting on the debates around Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's initiative to right size the city I see these evil twins. On the one hand, the City needs a creative planning response, one that also takes into account diminishing financial resources, but on the other, it needs too relax its muscles in order to allow this.
In the catalogue/book Pop Up City, Terry Schwartz writes that temporary use projects in shrinking cities(cities whose populations have declined by 40 percent or more) have an enticing and largely unrealized potential for deregulation, and that this potential creative future will lie in the ability to harvest these opportunities. Recent police raids on clubs across the City--where bands and djs play, where the throngs cool cities initiatives would acclaim-and the accompanying regulation tightening that promote municipal action that stifles creative use of city spaces rather than promote it--will do little to seize this potential.
The social benefits of temporary uses are clear in cities that encourage lightening regulatory behavior when it promotes the creative economy. Toronto's Nuit Blanche, Paris' temporary beach along the Seine. Cleveland's Bridge Mix.
Let's get creative regularly in Detroit--from the party planners to the city planners.
Useful links for more:
Pop Up City (an Amsterdam based online magazine of projects)
at 6:33 PM