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Public space & governance

  • The participation of the community, as well as organized communities such as NGOs, in all aspects of public space development such as planning, design, resourcing, enjoyment and maintenance is an objective to reach for many local governments. This is also called actors-led development referring to a type of governance in which local actors, inhabitants, organizations or associations, are involved and engaged. In this model of governance the openness of the collaboration is sought for the place making and keeping but especially in the use of the space. Public space as they are created and maintained for all citizens. The main challenges in an actors-led governance are the long-term inclusiveness of the collaboration that might at some point overstretch voluntarism or lead to an“ excessive ownership” of actors that might be exclusive.  To prevent this, it is important to acknowledge social engagement and “cityfiers[1]”.
  • There is another model of governance on public space, among others, in which the community has the role of the user. The plan-led development provides guidelines, in master plans for instance, to help local governments to guide their urban development including public spaces. Plan-led development projects a spatial reality that encourages other government levels or the private sector to evaluate  upstream the feasibility of their interventions.


EXAMPLE – Actors-led governance to manage public space: The Creative District of Porto Alegre, Brazil.

This District was set up in 2013 and is today a meeting point for artists and entrepreneurs from the creative class. This initiative is the result of collaboration with NGOs supported by local governments. Several projects and activities are regularly organized such as the recycled piano initiative in partnership with the Piano Livre project where 10 pianos were installed. In the C District, creativity is not restricted to private art galleries , neighbors organize events for arts to be out in the streets, squares and façades.


- EXAMPLE - Plan-led governance to create public space: Regional planning based on intermediary cities, Province of Santa Fe.

The Basic Plan is a document to guide the urban development processes of intermediary cities. Basically it provides a spatial dimension to local decision processes and takes into consideration the public interest and the social needs of the beneficiary city. This concept was created to help intermediary cities with absence of technical and/or regulatory instruments to plan their urban expansion. The Basic Plan program was implemented in the Santa Fe Province including 5 intermediary cities to ensure a territorial balance: Las Toscas, Sunchales, Santo Tomé, Casilda and Villa Cañas.

Public space and governance