What is DIY Urbanism?

BY JON ROGERS
July 14, 2010

Determined to see changes occur in their neighborhoods despite tight city budgets, many DIY Urbanists are taking matters into their own hands. They are rolling up their sleeves to make improvements to their built environment by planning, designing, and implementing projects. Because DIY Urbanism projects are conceived by individuals and implemented on tight budgets, innovation and creativity are key ingredients in any DIY project. As a result, DIY Urbanism projects are as diverse as the people who implement them. Projects can run the gambit from short to long-term endeavors, and can include anything from greening and beautification of public spaces to temporary improvements to stalled construction projects.

Aside from jumpstarting an otherwise stalled project, DIY Urbanism offers several other benefits, not least of which is empowering individuals to make a positive difference in their communities. In direct contrast to typical "top-down" approaches to planning, DIY Urbanism's "bottom-up" approach requires that individuals actively partake in shaping the city around them. This, in turn, strengthens the connection between individuals and their surroundings, and can even lead to a more engaged citizenry.

Featured Project: Life in the Fast Lane

Not all DIY Urbanism projects have to serve a particular goal such as beautification, public safety, or information sharing. Check out this example (sponsored by Volkswagen) from Berlin, to see what happens when a little piece of the playground is brought to a subway station. This whimsical project is a friendly reminder to have fun and shows us that a small DIY project that re-imagines a conventional environment can add a little joy to our everyday lives.

In preparation for our upcoming exhibit, DIY Urbanism: Testing grounds for social change, the blog will feature urban projects from around the world that embody the "DIY" mentality. Check back for more DIY Urbanism features in the coming weeks.