[-empyre-] "Urban resilience"

Kamen Nedev kamennedev at gmail.com
Mon Mar 5 04:18:42 EST 2012

I find the example of Nablus very interesting, Ana.

It is also representative of tactics to "make do" that citizens come
up with when faced with severe repression, or, in this case, a
full-blown military siege.

But I am also wondering about the cultural specificity of how citizens
use - and produce - public space.

The first major difference I note whenever I visit a neighbourhood
with a strong North African presence (as is the case of Lavapiés here
in Madrid), or whenever I visit Nort Africa, is how they use public
space. The souk, or main square, is a place for public congress, for
meeting people, for hanging out and finding out and discussing news,
etc., etc.

In the West, though, we have long stopped using public spaces and
squares in this way. Our public spaces have been streamlined according
to the idea of "circulate, or consume". It is a well-known part of the
gentrification process.

So, we have to search for other spaces for our "ágoras": and the
Internet tends to be one of the easiest one to access, at least in the

This fact - the general unhomeliness of our public squares - became a
big issue at the very first assembly during the early morning hours of
May 16th; the night that Puerta del Sol was occupied. (I've documented
this very first meeting in audio here, for those of you who might be
interested: http://www.archive.org/details/15Audio20110516 )

Once in Puerta del Sol, you suddenly stop, lok around, and realise how
barren and unwelcoming it really is. Where to sleep is not the
problem. But where can you find a usable WC? A place to do some
shopping for food? Where do you get water from? Etc.

So, indeed, citizens tend to find ways around adversity in their use
of public spaces - but there can be radical differences in how they
produce and use these spaces.



On 3/4/12, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Let me tell about Nablus, one of the oldest cities in the world, with one
> of the oldest souks in the world, protected by the Unesco as one of the
> world's heritage.
> The Israel army had the city besieged almost one year with curfews every
> day and often the whole day. When the curfew was lifted, randomly, some
> minutes there, one hour there, people ran from their homes where they were
> enclosed to buy some food to eat some knafe to meet at the souk until the
> next curfew come.
> There was resilience and resistance in their every days life and the city
> center, in a labyrinth, with all houses close to another, gave them the
> architectonic frame.
> In another city with bigger distances and parks and highways there should
> not be a chance to gather so soon and so often.
> Ana
> On Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 4:06 PM, Kamen Nedev <kamennedev at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 1:11 PM, Ethel Baraona Pohl
>> <ethel.baraona at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > @Kamen I'm aware about your reservation of the proliferation of the term
>> > "resilience".
>> Ooooh... What make you think that? XD
>> Still, trends (and trending topics) aside, I think notions such as
>> "resilience" need to be discussed in depth. Nevertheless, these
>> notions are fairly abstract, so I think your idea of discussing them
>> in architectural term (the city as a resilient social space) is apt.
>> Best,
>> Kamen
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