Lisa Lamkin
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Lisa Lamkin

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Critique: Tactical Urbanism

“…the urban planning equivalent of the iPhone replacing the mainframe.” Andres Duany

Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change is about successful action by citizens shaping cities. In contrast to recent decades where “too many planning exercises are expensive ways to discuss the possible,” there are inspirational examples within this book. It shows us how to make “plans without the usual preponderance of planning.”

The authors—Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia—started their firm in the middle of the recession amidst growing appreciation of the emerging open source approaches we now call Tactical Urbanism. In their opening chapter they provide an engaging overview of inspiring historical precedent for small-scale, low-cost responses to challenges of urban life – from mobile libraries to food trucks – grounding our perspective.

Why Tactical Urbanism? Why now? What can I do? Ample answers to these questions are provided along with successful examples that have rippled nationwide, including Building a Better Block and Park(ing) Day. Want to get started? Follow the recipe: build, measure, learn, repeat.

The last chapter—“Conclusion: GO OUT AND USE THIS BOOK!”—reminds us of our responsibility to engage. The book quotes David Harvey, distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at City University of New York: “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is … one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

The book is published by Island Press.


Reviewed by Lisa Lamkin, AIA, a principal with BRW Architects