everyday urbanism/insurgent urbanism/spontaneous urbanism

Everyday Urbanism: concerns itself with the left over spaces and the banal, the areas in a city that are often overlooked. Everyday Urbanism is less concerned with design, and more interested in reading the city through its meaning and interpretation, with an intent to stimulate street life. Actions, both physical and spatial, are thus concerned with spicing up everyday life, if only temporarily. Classified as a bottom up approach to planning, Everyday Urbanism does not show interest in the long term implications of its actions and re-appropriation, as such it potentially has little effect on top-down practices.

Insurgent Urbanism: A planned attack on the official public space in a contemporary city by public mobilization in opposition to the dominant regime. While not necessarily interested in the design and physicality of an urban space, insurgent urbanism is a spontaneous and unauthorized challenge to the status quo, how public space is used, or more broadly expressing socio-economic concerns. It is intentionally antagonistic in nature. Often centrally located within a city, such as Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, Tiananemen Square, or near symbols of recognized power and achieved through mass demonstration with both violent and non-violent disruption of the status quo.

Spontaneous Urbanism: A subversive reinterpretation of a public space, critical of normative spatial and social practice. Nimble, low-cost, in flux, as a challenge to top-down planning and formalism, these interventions offer a playful blur between the established urban environment and potential for new ways of inhabitation. Including but not limited to  creative resistance against dominant visual presence of consumerist culture. Emphasis is placed on accessibility with attention to local residents and perceived design needs facing communities.  It draws attention to how governments and citizens engage public space. These spontaneous acts appear and disappear quickly, however often require months of planning and a moderate budget.


Crawford, Margaret. Everyday Urbanism: Margaret Crawford Vs. Michael Speaks. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture, 2005.

Davis, Diane E. and Raman, Prassanna. “The Physicality of Citizenship: The Built Environment and Insurgent Urbanism.” Thresholds 41 (Spring 2013); 60-71.

Hou, Jeffrey. Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism And the Remaking of Contemporary Cities. New York: Routledge, 2010.


-Missy Ablin + Nate Oppenheim