Empowerment of remote places – spatio-social dimensions of public spaces as a driver of change

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Submission Summary
Fast urbanisation has marked the past decades of the global development. Planning research paid a lot of attention to understanding the growth of the cities - various spatial, environmental, social and economic issues have been risen and addressed through incresingly interdisciplinary approaches. In this drive to provide good urban environments, their non-urban counterparts – the small and remote settlements away from the urban hubs - were given much less attention, both in practical and research terms of spatial planning. While the urban centres were in the focus of the attention and have been becoming stronger, many remote places were loosing the attractivity for the people to live there due to the declining economic vitality, decreasing amenities and missing infrastructures to name the few. The lack of the official development strategies for small and remote places often resulted in the stroger self-organisation of local communities - in Europe for example the bottom-up participatory planning practices can be seen in different spatial and social contexts. This paper addresses the issues of contemporary living in small and remote places through the lenses of the improved quality of public spaces in a participatory manner. The spatio-social construction of public spaces and the roles that different actors play in the process of the improved quality of life through the public space regeneration processa are put into focus through the examination of the selected European case studies. The paper is conceptually based in the framework of so called uklads, which are the persistent ways of life or modes of activities which have the spatial expression and are embodied in the micro-economy, micro-culture and/or micro-environment which give the identity to the places. They also represent the living cultural heritage. Because of uklads, the certain space is used and transformed in the specific and distictive way(s). Embedded in the traditions and habbits uklads can be both the potential anchors as well as obstacles for the (re)development of remote places. Based on the systematic comparative review of more than 50 case studies that were analysed in cross-European project Smoties (which is a 2020-2024 edition of the Human Cities activities within the EU Creative Europe programme) the authors discuss the need for the novel approaches to the understanding and conceptualisation of public realm in remote places which must not simply adapt the methodologies developed for the urban environments. They need to understand the complexities of remote communities and places first in order to provide sensible strategies which aim to empower remote areas and make them more robust to face the current and future challanges of remote living. The paper points out that the spatial and even more social construction of public realm in remote places is distinctive and essentially different to urban one and that participatory and inclusive approaches are of even bigger importance in small communities - not only due to the need of joining the forces to combat the general lack of resources but also to empower the community members and strengthen the ties among them to unlock the potential of the remote areas.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
senior scientific associate
Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia
Doktor Gorodov

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Dr Hiral Joshi
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