Project Research and References

October 10, 2007


Austin Allen is an independent filmmaker, scholar and architect. He explores issues associated with urban development and use of public spaces, particularly parks. His work addresses the need for well designed public space that accomodates all demographics.

Here are some quotes and reviews of his documentary “Claiming Open Spaces”:
“The city parks of Columbus, New Orleans, Detroit, Oakland and Montgomery, and the African-Americans who frequent them, are the subjects of this urban documentary. Public spaces, and the ways in which we use them, sometimes conflict with official city planning.”
-Media rights:

“The documentary is a critical exploration of the design of urban spaces, a personal journey, and a celebration of leisure, recreation, and resistance. “We’ve been taught to see without seeing,” notes Allen, “how to experience spaces while ignoring the cultural imprints and connections to people that make them significant.” -Austin Allen

”Claiming Open Spaces is guided by interviews with social activists, city planners, urban designers, poets, landscape architects, historians, and most importantly, the people who use urban parks.”
-University of Colorado

“Austin Allen’s documentary takes a controversial stance: that African Americans’ conception of open space is different from that of the mostly white civic authorities who have closed public parks in recent years, denying blacks a vital gathering place… In building his case, Allen…creates a fascinating history of black America.”
– The East Bay Express

This is an article about University of Colorado students meeting with residents of the lower ninth ward to discuss redevelopment ideas.

“We believe, without a doubt, that this could be a vibrant, vital community if the right decisions are made,” said Austin. “This reconstruction will be planned, the question is whether the residents here will participate in the planning of their community. We hope we can help mobilize the community so they can communicate with the powers that be.” Austin Allen

Professor and Landscape Architect Joern Langhorst is teaching a UCD class about recovering post industrial and abandoned landscapes. His students are studying the Gates Factory redevelopment and coming up with their own ideas.

“Since the 1970s, the reclamation of abandoned, disused and derelict landscapes that were a product of distinctive technological activities and uses has become a topic of increasing importance and discourse. Using four case studies, I explore the evolution of approaches, frameworks, and underlying constructs of both socio-cultural and eco-technological systems that influence or determine the treatment of post-industrial landscapes. My focus is on two types of post-industrial landscapes in particular: landscapes of industrial production and landscapes of waste and refuse. Finally, I suggest that design approaches that incorporate and retain physical traces of previous uses and allow the site history to inform its current and future condition and that design approaches that incorporate a participatory involvement of the surrounding communities facilitate more successful results. The understanding of design as a temporal and open-ended activity further enhances the potential to create meaningful and functional open spaces on post-industrial sites.”
-Jörn Langhorst

The following link is to a paper entitled Rebuilding the post-industrial landscape: Interaction between
landscape and biodiversity on derelict land by scholar and urban planner Chris Ling


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