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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Collective reflections about development practice and cities


Reclaiming the Commons

By Alex Apsan Frediani, on 25 January 2012

Environmental Justice in Urban Open Spaces

This action learning platform of the DPU MSc programme on Environment and Sustainable Development is composed by lectures, discussions, workshops, field research and dissemination activities that aim to facilitate learning through direct engagement with real-scenario situations.

Through the entry point of open spaces, this platform aims to explore critically how urban transformations are impacting on environmental sustainability, equity and social justice. Furthermore, it hopes to assess the role of social mobilisation and planning in appropriating open spaces and contesting the causes of environmental injustice in the city.

During the first term of this academic year, the students focused on four ‘hot-spot’ locations in London that are going through rapid processes of transformation: Hackney Wick, Kings Cross, the city of London and Elephant & Castle. Each group produced an audio-visual report that illustrates the findings of their research. Apart from producing the videos shown below, the students have also worked with residents, activists and civil society organisations operating in those areas.Once again, the platform is now shifting its focus to the urban global south. In the next few months ESD students and staff will work with IWMI and People’s Dialogue, assessing how and why reclaimed commons through urban agriculture might contribute towards environmentally just urbanisation.

Check out the videos and join the debates!