The resurgence of public space: from the Charter of Athens to the New Urban Agenda
This paper serves as an introduction to the December 2018 edition of The Journal of Public Space, and a reflection on the new importance of public space in international research, policy and practice. Nowhere is that more evident than in the New Urban Agenda, the ambitious new international agreement for the normative goals of urban development in the next two decades and beyond. In that document, public space is treated in no fewer than nine paragraphs – and that new emphasis constitutes a historic reversal of highly influential normative models of prior urban practice. Herein we examine the seminal 1933 Charter of Athens, and we draw out major differences between the two documents, with particular attention to urban form and public space. We conclude with an assessment of the challenges ahead for implementation, particularly as we face significant “lock in” of the older model.
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