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Tensions and Synergies Between Tactical Urbanism and Social Sustainability: A Case Study of the Sunset Triangle Plaza
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Konflikter och synergier mellan Tactical urbanism och social hållbarhet : En fallstudie av Sunset Triangle Plaza (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

For the past several years, the term social sustainability has gained a strong foothold within urban studies and has become a pervasive and trendy term that seems to be on everyone’s lips. Public space is widely acknowledged as an important urban feature, often in association with the social sustainability. As cities around the world are experiencing rapid population growth, creating meaningful and enjoyable public spaces is more important than ever.

The heightened interest in social sustainability, public spaces and placemaking (as a physical manifestation of social sustainability) has led to the emergence of several urban intervention movements, such as Tactical Urbanism. In 2012, for the first time in Los Angeles’ history, this tactic was used to transform a car trafficked street in Silver Lake into a pedestrian friendly public space: the Sunset Triangle Plaza. The aim of this thesis is to, by studying the use and function of the plaza after the conversion, highlight how a broad concept such as social sustainability can be understood from a relatively small-scale public space intervention.

The case study was conducted during the spring and summer of 2018, using a variety of data sources including interviews and observations of the plaza during February and March 2018. Two interviews were conducted with managers of the businesses directly adjacent to the plaza. Moreover, street surveys were conducted on two different occasions to ask the public about their use and opinions about the plaza. The results from the case study are presented to illustrate the real-life experience of the theories about social sustainability, public space and a discussion regarding “Whose Public Space?”, when applied at a local context. The findings were then further divided into three categories: usage (what type of activities did the installation enable?), users (for whom were they enabled?) and change (indicators of how the site has changed), reflecting the notions of Tactical Urbanism.

While certain changes have been merely “tactical”, others were more substantial; businesses flourished, traffic safety increased, the space has become a meeting place and therefore, it has now got an identity. Immediate change was evident in the process of the physical change when the plaza was constructed, but what has also followed is a continuous change. Even though the plaza with its painted dots may not look like much, a new space for engagement and interaction has been created, both physically and mentally. In addition, converting a street for the cars into a plaza dedicated to pedestrians is especially symbolic in a city like Los Angeles, where the automobile has been the predominant mean of transport for the last 60 years and instrumental in shaping the city’s layout. However, the case study also showed that it is one thing to launch a Tactical Urbanism initiative and another thing to maintain it and achieve long-term social changes.

The examined concepts and models to evaluate whether a public space can be considered successful are not always useful. The Sunset Triangle Plaza has certainly changed, but it has implied a continuous change – for better and for worse. Thus, this study also shows that it is evident that the idea of the “organically emerged” city can imply both opportunities and limitations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 65
Series
TRITA-ABE-MBT ; 18482
Keywords [en]
social sustainability, public spaces, placemaking, tactical urbanism
Keywords [sv]
social hållbarhet, offentliga rum, placemaking, tactical urbanism
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-256036OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-256036DiVA, id: diva2:1343394
Subject / course
Built Environment
Educational program
Degree of Master - Sustainable Urban Planning and Design
Presentation
2018-10-24, Department of Urban and Regional Studies, Teknikringen 10A, Stockholm, 16:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-12-06 Created: 2019-08-16 Last updated: 2019-12-06Bibliographically approved

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