Public space for street-scape theatrics : guerrilla spatial tactics and methods of urban hacking in Brisbane, Australia

Cox, Christopher & Guaralda, Mirko (2015) Public space for street-scape theatrics : guerrilla spatial tactics and methods of urban hacking in Brisbane, Australia. In Bravo, Luisa (Ed.) Proceedings of Past Present and Future of Public Space – International Conference on Art, Architecture and Urban Design, City Space Architecture, Bologna, Italy, pp. 1-10.


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It could be argued that architecture has an inherent social responsibility to enrich the urban and spatial environments for the city’s occupants. However how we define quality, and how ‘places’ can be designed to be fair and equitable, catering for individuals on a humanistic and psychological level, is often not clearly addressed. Lefebvre discusses the idea of the ‘right to the city’; the belief that public space design should facilitate freedom of expression and incite a sense of spatial ownership for its occupants in public/commercial precincts. Lefebvre also points out the importance of sensory experience in the urban environment. “Street-scape theatrics” are performative activities that summarise these two concepts, advocating the ‘right to the city’ by way of art as well as providing sensual engagement for city users. Literature discusses the importance of Street-scape Theatrics however few sources attempt to discuss this topic in terms of how to design these spaces/places to enhance the city on both a sensory and political level.

This research, grounded in political theory, investigates the case of street music, in particular busking, in the city of Brisbane, Australia. Street culture is a notion that already exists in Brisbane, but it is heavily controlled especially in central locations. The study discusses how sensory experience of the urban environment in Brisbane can be enriched through the design for busking; multiple case studies, interviews, observations and thematic mappings provide data to gather an understanding of how street performers see and understand the built form. Results are sometime surprisingly incongruous with general assumptions in regards to street artist as well as the established political and ideological framework, supporting the idea that the best and most effective way of urban hacking is working within the system. Ultimately, it was found that the Central Business District in Brisbane, Australia, could adopt certain political and design tactics which attempt to reconcile systematic quality control with freedom of expression into the public/commercial sphere, realism upheld. This can bridge the gap between the micro scale of the body and the macro of the political economy through freedom of expression, thus celebrating the idiosyncratic nature of the city.

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ID Code: 79901
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Urban Hacking, Street performance, Baskin, Urban Design, Brisbane
DOI: 10.5204/jps.v1i1.14
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: © 2015 Christopher James Cox and Mirko Guaralda
Deposited On: 08 Jan 2015 00:05
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2017 21:17

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