Towards a Minor Urbanism : Thinking Community without Unity in Recent Makings of Public Space

Abstract: HOW CAN WE PLAN AND DESIGN FOR community in diverse urban situations? In response to segregation and social fragmentation, public space is increasingly being conceived of as a vehicle for fostering openness towards differences, both in planning practice and theory. Drawing on two recent public space projects – Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Jubileumsparken in Gothenburg, Sweden – this thesis explores what this hopeful idea may mean in terms of the actual making of public space. By enabling a dialogue between theoretical conceptualizations of community and empirical findings in this thesis, two contrasting approaches to community in public space emerge: Spaces of Collective Care and Spaces of Being-in-Common. The notion of Spaces of Collective Care suggests that community is an emergent collective potential that may be realized through shared processes of care, while the notion of Spaces of Being-in-Common captures almost the opposite position: that community is a condi-tion that is already there, and anyone who emerges with a place is an integrated part of the community of that place. Although the two notions are ontologically different, possibilities to design public spaces for communities that are open to difference arise in the tension between them.The friction between the objective of planning to make public spaces for everyone and the aspirations to serve particular groups or interests is also addressed as part of this discussion. Drawing on particular situations at Superkilen and Jubileumsparken in which the personal and intimate may be experienced along with the deeply collective, it is suggested that general and particular interests need not be mutually exclusive in the making of public space.Answers to questions of how to think about community that is open to difference in public space cannot be definitive. New situations will emerge, and with them, new opportunities for community. Departing from Deleuze and Guattari’s work on a minor literature (1986), and observing how transformative critique may originate from within the planning institutions, the notion of a minor urbanism is developed. My cases draw attention to the ways in which practises of a minor urbanism, characterized by an experimental approach to urban design, may influence how community is theorized – and built – in relation to urban diversity and public space.Leaving behind similarity and unity as the main characteristics of community is to venture into less recognized understandings of community. To render such understandings tangible, the study at hand discusses a range of situations in which community open to diversity may be experienced in public space. With the overall aim to contribute to a more developed understanding of inclusive space, it offers a number of analytical concepts that will enable an evolved and nuanced discussion of how architecture and urban design may support communities open to diversity in urban public spaces.