The challenges facing urban public space will be explored at a one-day conference and public exhibition organised by Leeds Social Sciences Institute at the University of Leeds.
‘Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space’ will bring together academic researchers, policy-makers and practitioners next week to explore a number of contemporary themes and the manner in which they are played out in different types of public spaces such as parks and brownfield regeneration areas. It will also look at ways in which such spaces can be reinvigorated,
The changing face of public space in Leeds will be a major focus for discussion, as will new initiatives such as the South Bank Development, the city centre transport hub, markets, parks and commercial projects. These will be considered within wider national and international trends, debates and innovations.
The event, on Monday 5 June (9.15am-5pm), is in the University’s Great Hall. Attendance is free, but registration in advance is required via www.lssi.leeds.ac.uk.
Providing a forum to debate current issues and explore new collaborations, the conference will consider the sustainability of public spaces; how they might be used in the future; and their core values of “publicness”.
Keynote speeches will be given by Sophie Watson, Professor of Sociology at the Open University, and Allison Dutoit, an Associate with Gehl Architects. There will also be roundtable discussions and workshops featuring – among others – representatives from the Parks Alliance, National Market Traders Federation, Leeds City Council and Safer Leeds.
Professor Adam Crawford, Director of Leeds Social Sciences Institute, said: “What has traditionally been considered ‘the public’ sphere is being challenged due to austerity policies, the sale of public housing, and the privatisation of public space. Meanwhile, at the same time, much public space is under-utilised.
“This major public event will address these challenges and explore the opportunities that arise from them to reinvigorate the use and value of public spaces and to examine how research can inform and influence the best ways forward.”
The event will conclude with an exhibition that will provide members of the public with information about current research into urban public space developments in the region. Exhibits will include a pedal-powered apple crusher and paper pots for seed planting.
There will also be information from organisations including Leeds Civic Trust, the South Bank Development, and The Orchard Project.
This drop-in event will be between 5-6.30pm in Parkinson Court at the University.