What is Tactical Urbanism?

Have you ever participated in Park(ing) Day? If not, you are most missing out on one of the funnest days of the year for urban planners. Park(ing) is a one-day global event that happens on the third Friday in the month September and is a day that is dedicated to transforming metered parking spaces into a public space or parklet where people can utilize the space to play games, eat, or do anything else besides parking their cars. Park(ing) Day is just one example of Tactical Urbanism.

Tactical urbanism is a term coined by Mike Lyndon and Tony Garcia of The Street Plans Collaborative. The basic idea behind the concept of tactical urbanism is using low-cost, temporary interventions within public space that will be beneficial for long-term change. Some examples of interventions are chair bombing, guerrilla gardening, pop-up parks, and food trucks/carts.

The Street Plans Collaborative provides five basic characteristics that tactical urbanist projects are defined by:

  • A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;

  • The offering of local solutions for local planning challenges;

  • Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;

  • Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; and

  • The development of social capital between citizens and the building of organizational capacity between public, private, and non-profits sectors.

Tactical urbanism is a unique and fun way to look at space and determine how it can be best temporarily modified to enact necessary change within any community. In many instances, different events are formed using this concept where people utilize the space in a way that it may not be normally used for. An example of this would be having a community event where the residents can be brought together in an unconventional way. By taking an empty/vacant lot and setting up a pop-up stage for local music groups and/or spoken word artists to present their craft as well as providing food via food trucks the community will unknowingly be involved in a tactical urbanism project.

This is just one of the ways that you can incorporate tactical urbanism within your local community. Tactical urbanism can be whatever you would like it to be as long as you use your creativity and consider the five basic characteristics provided above. If you would like to learn more about different tactical urbanists concepts, feel free to check out these free guides written by The Streets Plans Collaborative.



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