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Tools for Togetherness, public and collective spaces in All City/All Land

Tools for Togetherness, public and collective spaces in All City/All Land

Prof dr Maarten Gheysen

Since the mid 90ies the Flemish historical cities are undergoing an enormous renaissance. After decades of urban exodus they now became attractive places for living and working. Simultaneously a lot of capacity has been build up on this urban renaissance. A number of theoretical frameworks & concepts are developed, policy makers were trained and subsidies are directed to generate this urban renaissance.

But at the same time some side marks can be made. The knowledge and capacity building has an exclusive focus on the traditional urban context and favorizes the middle-class. Although the dispersed context, coined as All City/All Land, includes half of the Flemish inhabitants, no specific knowledge has been generated on this specific territory. Instead urban solutions are inserted in a context that bears no urban features at all. Simultaneously very limited groups are addressed. People with different cultural backgrounds, different social classes, different needs, even young or old are not addressed.

Urban public spaces, those spaces that should enable the encounter with different cultures, are more and more homogenized and reduced to recreation and consumption.

This master dissertation therefore challenges the notion of “city” and the notion of “public space”. Can we describe in All City/All Land places that enable public and collective needs? What are the features and qualities of such places? Who is frequenting them? How thus the appropriation of such places work? What ‘Tools for Togetherness’ can we invent?

In the framework of this master dissertation not all of these question can be tackled. In discussion with the supervisor the topic will be delineated to the students interest.

This master dissertation is part of an ongoing research in collaboration with the College University Vives.

A terrace along the canal as new forms of public and collective spaces in All City/All Land. © Maarten Gheysen, 2016