At the Ninth session of the World Urban Forum, convened by UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, held on 7-13 February 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, City Space Architecture was selected to coordinate a networking event, which took place on Sunday February 11 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
The networking event was intended to be an effective contribution to the discussion related to improvement of human health and well-being, overcoming discrimination and inequalities, thus giving rights to vulnerable community-groups. Those references are relevant both for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and for the achievement of the SDGs. Human health and well-being are strongly related to public space and the way it is designed and managed. Nowadays we often record the increasingly privatisation of the public domain in direct and indirect ways; also, the lack of facilities to access, live and enjoy the public space often isolate communities, limiting their freedom to engage into the public sphere. We mainly refer to public space's cultural richness, identity and diversity, but in our contemporary times public space is dealing more and more with inequalities, poverty and conflicts. Public spaces are meant to be open, inclusive and democratic, but today we see physical, social and economic barriers that challenge the true nature of public space: economic issues, social and cultural segregation, huge real estate investments, privatization trends and gentrification processes are dominating aspirations of local communities and different social groups. We also experience theoretical barriers to an open discussion on public space: the discourse is often limited to specific national or linguistic areas and the dominance of exempla from the so-called global West or global North are limiting our knowledge about public space, often imposing an oversimplified view of public space design, management and use. Those barriers, physical and theoretical, are a threat to our communities in terms of access to basic needs; they are also an obstacle for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and its principles.
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