The past decades urban squares have been the center of revolutions and a cradle of the voices requesting social change. In Kiev it was Euromaidan (Euro square) which started on 21st November with a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest which later on occupied Maidan Nezalezhnosti with the largest number of people since the Orange Revolution 2004. The name speaks to an increasingly universal phenomenon as well: the public square as an epicenter of democratic expression and protest, and the lack of one-or the deliberate manipulation of such a space-as a way for autocrats to squash dissent through urban design. 1
How does an urban square change it’s function, program and character before and after a revolution ? On Tahrir Square which was congregated by people February 11th 2011, last month workers have started erecting 10 foot tall gates. “They were talking about turning Tahrir into a museum, a place of celebration”, said Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the liberal Dustour Party. “Instead they are installing these ugly iron gates and trying to prevent and ban demonstrations in Tahrir Square itself “.2
The question remains, if maidans are a physical manifestation of democracy ( in theory ) , how could we as urban designers and architects insert interfaces for dialogue in public space ( in practice ) ? How can we create interfaces which will materialize the right to the city and create a polyvalent relationship between the citizens and the polis ?
The right to the city as a concept was coined by Henri Lefebvre and it is about the rights of all urban dwellers, regardless of citizenship, ethnicity, ability, gender and so forth, to participate in shaping the city. 3At present Kiev’s urban squares are at a confrontation between monumentality, large scales and proportions in contrast to small pedestrian activity, minimal social engagement and minimal informal activities.
D I A L O G U E is a design tool that needs to be implemented in the urban planning of Kiev .
D I A L O G U E sets questions on which assemblies are organized on a public square in order for the people to have their right to the city. The proposed solution aims to explore the relationship between three levels:
Creating a dialogue between the polis and it’s citizens
Creating a dialogue within public pace
Creating a dialogue within the interventions ( public squares and streets )
D I A L O G U E stands for :
-Interventions which give opportunities for social engagement in public space
-Interventions conducted in phases
-Proposes model which can be used on public squares globally
-Proposes opportunities for citizens to claim their Right to the city
1 Matt Ford (21.02.2014) : A Dictator's Guide to Urban Design, The Atlantic
Ukraine's Independence Square, and the revolutionary dimensions of public spaces
2Tom Perry (10.02.2014) : Towering gates at Cairo's Tahrir Square draw criticism, Reuters
3 Polisblog : The Right to the City (11.11.2009) : Reflections on Theory and Practice, Polisblog
Link to full project :
Project team : Milka Dokuzova, Elena Asprovska, Aleksandra Shekutkovska