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Urban Acupuncture "Revitalizing urban areas by small scale interventions"
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Spatial Planning.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to create a better understanding of the theory of urban acupuncture. It attempts to create an overall view of the theory and discusses its benefits and challenges. By applying a critical discourse analyze on the visions of three theorists and four additional case studies, this thesis seeks to find an answer to the main research question: How can the theory of Urban Acupuncture be successfully applied in order to revitalize urban areas? The three enumerated visions within this thesis, belong to the theorists who coined urban acupuncture namely; Jaime Lerner, Manuel de Sola-Morales and Marco Casagrande. Urban acupuncture takes part of an emerge of Do It Yourself (DIY) initiatives. By urban acupuncture is generally understood that it is about the application of small scale interventions, which create a higher livability. It hereby reacts against the large-scale revitalization projects that took place in the last decades. Urban acupuncture performs small-scale interventions at strategic chosen locations to create a maximization of the effects causing possible (socially) catalytic spinoffs. Urban acupuncture projects can occur from top-down as well as bottom-up initiatives and allow participatory processes. Comprehensive information on urban acupuncture is scarce. The available sources remain vague about the correct implementation or execution and offer little to no clarification. Nevertheless there are initiatives noticeable by several practitioners. By analyzing these projects with a critical look, a link between the theory and practice can be made, allowing an exposure of the benefits and challenges that these cases encountered. The enumeration of these aspects leads to a better understanding of the theory and can thereby lead to a better implementation for future projects. The thesis focuses on four cases studies, differing from both top-down as bottom- up initiatives. Two cases represent the top-down initiative projects and took place in Rosengård, (Malmö, Sweden). The two bottom-up initiatives took place in De Baarsjes (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). These cases have indicated themselves, that they applied urban acupuncture. The main findings of this thesis are that from the theory, 8 different principles can be determined, which should be taken into account when urban acupuncture is applied. The case studies that this thesis addresses, showcase noticeable similarities with these 8 principles. This account for both top-down as for the bottom-up initiatives. However, the projects have also showcased that not all the principles were as obviously present as others. This can be related to the fact that the cases marked their projects as urban acupuncture in a retro-perspective way. This puts the results of this thesis in a different spotlight. Another possible explanation could be that the principles are not a necesity, but mostly a recommendation. Therefore not every principle might be present in forms of urban acupuncture. Nevertheless the chosen cases demonstrate the effects of the participatory processes, which can lead to several benefits, such as; a greater support, a (social) catalytic effect, the enforcement of process changes and the lower costs. Urban acupuncture is not a ready-made solution but the strategy towards the interventions. This also brings several challenges along, which need to be overcome. These challenges may vary from the making of promises to the participants, the time limitations, the need for cohesion in the society and the danger of bureaucracy. Urban acupuncture asks for micromanagement in order to safeguard a successful implementation. The principles that are enumerated in this thesis are to be kept in the back of the mind, making the changes for success bigger. The principles, stated in this thesis, are not independent from each other; instead they require each others influence and therefor overlap other principles. A metaphor with a rose can be made. The leaves of the rose represent the principles or urban acupuncture. The leaves are the elements where the rose consists out of. Not every principle is needed in order to stay a rose. On the other hand, more principles might be present but it is still considered to be a rose. A rose that grows from the cracks in the concrete. The concrete is our urban environment, which is the urban skin. This urban skin has it flaws and sensitive points. These are the cracks which represents the potential areas and problem areas within this urban skin. Even though the rose might be small, it can create a huge impact on a person. This is the social impact that urban acupuncture is aiming for. The impact starts at a small area but can have a ripple effect if implemented in a good way. The better the looks of the leaves, the bigger the change on a great impact. The leaves of the rose are overlapping, just like the principles have a great influence on each other. If the leaves of the rose unfold, the rose looks better. The better the elaboration of the principles, the better the intervention. A rose has thorns, which can be tedious. One must prevent himself not to get stung. If one is aware of the thorns, they can be removed. The same is also true for urban acupuncture, at which challenges come along. Provided that these challenges are kept in mind, they can be overcome. A rose is temporary but can be preserved if taken care of. The rose takes time to grow, but a first seed needs to be planted. This is the (quick) act that urban acupuncture asks for. We need to start seeding now.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 50 p.
Keyword [en]
Urban acupuncture, small scale interventions, public space, participation, Malmö, Amsterdam, top-down, bottom-up, principles, urban revitalization
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-5162Local ID: diva2:832526
Author´s Phone: (0046) 727 37 71 42Available from: 2015-04-22 Created: 2014-06-30 Last updated: 2015-06-30Bibliographically approved

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