In his 1964 work “One Dimensional Man” Herbert Marcuse describes what he believes to be the de-evolution of industrialized society into the single minded pursuit of commerce. Decades later his hypothesis seems even closer to the truth, as much of our social interaction is now based in spaces that are designed to promote consumption. These spaces are in fact privately owned lots that are masquerading as public space so as to satiate the populace’s desire for “public” interaction without sacrificing their effectiveness as places of commerce. The migration of social interaction into these pseudo-public spaces has further marginalized the city’s remaining public space.  In his essay “Spaces of Uncertainty” Ken Cupers asks “is it only the sterile places with clearly defined use that we can enjoy today? Is it the designer shops, the fancy cafes, or the commercial promenades that provide our satisfaction? What about the young, the restless, the old, the poor, and the ones having been excluded from contemporary public space and therefore removed from society?”

     Options for inhabiting public space are limited for those who choose to forgo the theater of commercial space (and those who are forced to avoid it). However there is hope in the margins of our cities. The in-between and left behind spaces hold untold potential as spaces for interaction and expression. However, in order to tap into the latent potential of marginalized space alternative methods of space making, such as temporary architecture and “absurd urbanism,” must be explored. Absurd urbanism can best be described as the disparate combination of use and site. This type of approach is inspired by a number of avant-garde groups, most notably the Situationists International, whose actions have been interpreted as demands for “mobile urban spaces” and “modifiable architecture” (Haydn 48). The combination of these two Situationist ideas can be used to create a type of urban timeshare in some of the city’s marginalized spaces, thereby making them attractive to the public once again.

Adam Barbosa

Architecture / Design / Fabrication / Photography