Temporary use report (2012)

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DoTank (formed by  Movense Oy, Pure Design, AFA and Hilda Kozari) won, in 2011, a public bid to produce this report, commissioned by the City of Helsinki. It is now public and available online (in Finnish) here.

Some extracts in English:

In Helsinki, like in every metropolis, urban areas are subject to periods of high and low utilization, due to economic cycles, political changes, real estate trends, de-industrialization, changes of land uses, etc. When an area is in the midst of such an evolving situation, even if there is a new master plan at the horizon, there is a time gap before the proposed new buildings and functions can be put in practice. It is in this “in between” of old and new, that it is possible to introduce temporary uses and activities, which can offer new scenarios of urban regeneration.

Temporary uses (TU) are the expression of an alternative understanding to urban planning. In fact, TU are concerned with small places and brief spans of time to occur before a new master plan, or in the lack of it; they seek to use what already exists rather than inventing everything anew. The mere idea of temporality allows to experiment in a freer way: it makes possible to propose TU with unique qualities and functions. Then, TU on the long run could either become the starting point for permanent activities and potentially changes to the original master plan or could disappear, only to resurface somewhere else.

TU projects can be approached meanly with two different intentions, leading to different results. The first is motivated by economic calculation with the goal of improving an underused property or a section of a city. The other is motivated by the willingness of opening up an area to citizens, leading to experiments with alternative urban uses and spaces for the community. Both approaches, nevertheless, adopt TU as “pioneers”, interventions and experiments that seek solutions to a stuck situation.

Recently TU initiatives have spread out in some European metropolis to such an extent that municipalities begun to recognize the value of those (often bottom-up) processes and therefore absorb it into the duties of the public administration. This chapter analyses some different strategies used to channel and foster TU projects. In order to upgrade problematic areas or to bring in temporary activities before new master plans take place, the public sector has to have the ability to initiate and mediate those processes, supporting private-public initiative (PPP), finding partners and establishing networks. TU should be considered as catalyst of urban development, rather than “disturbance” of the status quo.

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