Hostile Architecture News Urban Hospitality

Keynote lecture for the Public Space Academy

Urban hospitality: what does it entail, for whom, and why does it matter?

This was the central question of my online keynote lecture for the Public Space Academy. Based in Bologna, the Academy is the first, free, interdisciplinary educational program aimed at establishing a new approach to urban complexity built around public space.

My lecture dealt with how cities like to present themselves; as open and inclusive, with their public spaces accessible to everyone – residents or visitors. As welcoming urban environments where everybody has the opportunity to participate in public life and can go about safely. In short, they promote themselves as hospitable cities. But what exactly does this mean, and for whom? Many cities are welcoming to some but experienced as hostile by others. As a result of overblown gentrification processes, marginalised groups are often driven out of the city and, consequently, out of its public spaces. This is reinforced by defensive urban design strategies such as hostile architecture.

The lecture explores the multi-faceted concept of urban hospitality morally, philosophically, and spatially. Who has which right to the city? How can design choices undermine or fortify the sense of welcome in public spaces?

Moreover, the concept of urban hospitality is expanded to encompass the other-than-human. In light of the worldwide loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity, it is crucial to green cities in such a way that urban biodiversity is enhanced. A nature-inclusive approach to the design of public spaces is pivotal to achieving this.

You can watch the recording of the lecture below (free, in English).