polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Recipes for Urban Occupation

by Melissa García Lamarca

Repurposing dumpsters acquired through the local planning department to occupy the street. Source: Recetas Urbanas.

Scaffolding forms a temporary room, possibly connected to a flat's interior space, but always accessible from public space of the street. Source: Recetas Urbanas.

"WARNING: All the urban prescriptions that follow are for public use, able to be used in all their strategic and legal development by citizens that fancy doing it."

So reads the opening line of Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda's Recetas Urbanas (Urban Prescriptions), a website detailing his bold and subaltern architectural projects. Under the heading of "subversive strategies of urban occupation," he provides several possibilities for such urban interventions, including step-by-step guidelines on obtaining legal permits toward their implementation. He outlines how urban residents can leverage gaps in municipal legislation to enable the appropriation of urban spaces and generate new possibilities for their use.

Arranging temporary public equipment to appropriate empty lots. Source: Recetas Urbanas

Employing found or recycled materials, Cirugeda shows accessible ways to convert empty or underused spaces into social spaces, disrupting the dominant top-down approach to design and architecture. While many projects were developed a decade ago or more, they continue to inspire and help us think creatively about different ways to appropriate — and indeed, occupy — space in our cities.

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