working thesis statement

Property laws, conventions, and the spatial systems that they imply, to a large extent, determine the ways that we interact with each other and the city. Property is actually based in legality as a bundle of rights, however it manifests itself as a spatial boundary and a means to divide up land into territory. These divisions determine the character of our cities as the aggregate of these private boundaries and their negotiation, relative to our urban commons. Though urban public space is often in the form of discrete designed parkland, a more ubiquitous and less recognized form exists in the in-between spaces of circulation and leftover spaces from the system of private ownership. Within these spaces, there is potential for the integration of leisure, personal, civic, and political engagement.

I am interested in the ways that property laws and conventions manifest as a spatial system. Within this system of ownership, there are instances in which there are gaps in private ownership. These gaps may be occupied and leveraged as opportunities for a new distributed system of urban commons. Rather than the centralized and separated model of urban parks, recreation, and leisure, for example manifested in Central Park, I am proposing a more distributed and informal use of common space, appropriating places of disuse. This system would have the potential to integrate recreation and personal and political interaction into everyday life.

Property ownership within a city, and thus its urban identity, is in flux. Many parcels fall into vacancy disuse, which can often seem a blight, however, it can also be seen as an opportunity. Because property ownership is a system in flux and often, especially in marginalized communities, properties can remain wasted or undeveloped for periods of time, intervention in these plots would be in the form of temporary use. The factor of time is critical in that these interventions could be easily deployed, adapted, and moved or removed. It is intended as a systematic approach applied to a wider geographic area than just one parcel, which could be adapted to specific conditions.

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