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Facilitating Spatial Negotiation: a pragmatic approach to understanding public space


The workshop ‘Facilitating Spatial Negotiation’, which took place as part of the ‘Past, Present and Future of Public Space’ International conference on Art, Architecture and Urban Design that took place in Bologna (2014), promoted by City Space Architecture, demonstrates a pragmatic approach to understanding how public space can be realised. The method of collaborative painting is employed within a participatory practice that adopts tactics from spatial agency and critical spatial practice. First, this paper provides a descriptive and visual insight into the discussion between six participants on the topic of the street as a public space, in light of the Social Street movement. Then, it sets out how the session can be understood, through analogy, as a creative exercise in performing a common space. By reflecting upon this event through the framework of participatory practice, the focus is on how conflict is revealed and negotiated within the group. Two instants of conflict are discussed, which raise the critical question whether people are, in fact, interested in working together towards the production and use of common space. It is suggested that the implications of this workshop are twofold. First, a truly public space cannot be realised if the principles of common space are not adopted within the process of its negotiation. Secondly, the finding of a common language in the process of negotiating public space is crucial to this process. The painterly approach offers a shared visual forum, but ultimately the use of any facilitating medium depends on people’s responsibility to participate.

Pages:27 to 36
Section: Space
How to Cite
Mlicka, A. (2017) “Facilitating Spatial Negotiation: a pragmatic approach to understanding public space”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(2), pp. 27-36. doi:

Author Biography

Agnieszka Mlicka is an artist, researcher and visual facilitator based in Copenhagen. She founded Visual Agency to organise workshops and courses that stimulate curiosity, creativity and collaboration through participatory drawing. This practice emerged from 6 years of PhD research in the fields of art and architecture at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The interdisciplinary, practice-led research investigated collaborative painting as a method for facilitating spatial negotiation within the architectural discipline. Agnieszka has a BFA Fine Art degree from the University of Oxford and an MA Painting degree from the University of the Arts London.


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Open Access Journal
ISSN 2206-9658