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Book chapter ‘Streetscape Essentials’ in publication ‘Taking Action: Transforming Athens’ Urban Landscapes’

Kris Scheerlinck and Gitte Schreurs contributed to the publication ‘Taking Action: Transforming Athens’ Urban Landscapes’ with the chapter ‘Streetscape Essentials’. (Jovis Verlag, Kling, Norbert (Editor); Roidis, Tasos (Editor); Michaeli, Mark (Editor))

‘Streetscapes are important players in the social updating of the urban fabric and its multiple collective realms. Many of the city’s social encounters and interactions, of its spatial appropriations and its territorial contestations happen at the level of the streetscape. These complex socio-spatial configurations of collective spaces, including interior spheres as well as outdoor areas, need to be constantly analysed, monitored and managed, as streetscapes are in constant change and are repeatedly challenged by new multi-scalar processes of city-making. Ongoing intensifying waves of climate and health crisis only highlight the need to critically re-read the functioning of contemporary streetscapes. One of the main questions related to the analysis of streetscapes remains: which are the “essential” elements in these urban landscapes: which elements – implicitly or explicitly – trigger social interaction? Which elements guarantee just and tolerant uses of streetscapes? We can also wonder which elements help us to organise – rather than divide or specialise – these landscapes? How to manage streetscapes without micro-managing them or applying excessive and patronising guidelines for their use and appropriation? Are there new ways in which citizens can relate to and appropriate these streetscapes? Which streetscape elements relate to collective memories? This article explores alternative ways of reading contemporary streetscapes in the case of New York, with reflections on other cases of place-making processes.’