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Informal/Formal Urbanism Symposium

We will be sharing our work on 'The ordinary city and the extraordinary city: The challenges of planning for the everyday' in the panel discussion on PUBLIC SPACES as part of the Informal/Formal Urbanism Symposium organised by the Melbourne School of Design. Our session is at 8.30am IST on 28 Oct. For more details and to register, click here:

Recent work on informal urbanism argues that informality is a strong force in determining and shaping how cities in the global south grow, and hence needs to be a part of emergent urban theory. Our paper attempts to build upon this work through undertaking an empirical investigation into how people informally shape the city through their everyday and periodic activities in public spaces. Specifically, the research uses spatial ethnography to examine urban informality as an outcome of spatial and economic changes in a market precinct in Bangalore.

The paper finds that everyday practices within certain urban spaces have a temporal dimension. The ordinary city encapsulates how people use urban spaces on an everyday basis and the extraordinary city reflects how urban spaces are transformed during a periodic, religious and cultural festival. The paper attempts to derive relational measures of locational choice, tactics of informal vendors, and the economics of the space through an unpacking of the two situations. It finds that there is a change in the processes of interaction between the informal and formal non-state actors as well as in the tolerance of the state during these different situations for the same locations in the neighbourhood. It draws upon the construct of the ‘common denominator’ and applies it to the everyday practices within these situations to develop an ordinary-extraordinary framework.

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