Urban Acupuncture

Urban Acupuncture

Urban Acpuncture
I believe that some medicinal “magic” can and should be applied to cities, as many are sick and some nearly terminal. As with the medicine needed in the interaction between doctor and patient, in urban planning it is also necessary to make the city react; to poke an area in such a way that it is able to help heal, improve, and create positive chain reactions. It is indispensable in revitalizing interventions to make the organism work in a different way. (Jamie Lerner, an architect and urbanist)

We all have been there blaming our cities for certain issues, that were there, are there and there is this feeling, this hopelessness that they will be there always. The reason for many cities losing the battle against degradation and violence is because they settled for the view that difficulties were too big to handle and could only be dealt with, unless all the planning tools and financial resources are in place.

But According to Lerner, in his book ‘Urban Acupuncture’, “changes to a community don’t need to be large-scale and expensive to have a transformative impact, in fact, one block, park, or a single person can have an outsized effect on life in the surrounding city.

Strategic punctual interventions can create a new energy and help the desired scenario to be consolidated.

This is Urban Acupuncture –

An urban environmentalism theory which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture. This process uses small-scale interventions to transform the larger urban context. Sites are selected through an aggregate analysis of social, economic, and ecological factors, and developed through a dialogue between designers and the community. Acupuncture relieves stress in the body, urban acupuncture relieves stress in the environment. Urban acupuncture produces small-scale but socially catalytic interventions into the urban fabric.”

Term being originally coined by Barcelonan architect and urbanist, Manuel de Sola Morales, this school of thought disdains massive urban renewal projects, and shift focus to areas that are useless and do not serve any positive function for the city and its residents, in favor a of more localized and community approach that, in an era of constrained budgets and limited resources could fairly and inexpensively offer a breather to urban inhabitants.

The basic role of urban acupuncture is to transform the junk, sick & worn out areas into a center for cultural identity and citizen interaction. Urban acupuncture works to improve the quality of life for urban residents. According to Lerner, the improvement for increased quality of life can be categorized in specific areas: sustainability, mobility, and socio-diversity. Acupuncture attempts to consolidate each of the three variables that add to the quality of life into a single project.

I believe, building any vision of the future is a process that not only recognizes but also welcomes and embraces the multiple visions that inhabitants, planners, politicians, businesses, and civil society have of their city, form an equal responsibility equation and bring abut the change.

Whenever there are talks about city planning or interventions the major stakeholders of the city i.e. its inhabitants usually are unaware of it and typically get to know about the project when it is

actually initiated. The issue here is that they don’t get to choose at all what they want or involve or even have a say about any intervention even though they are ones after all, to experience it on daily basis. That’s how we have seen cities developing all these years. The development perspective misses the very basic understanding that the city is a collective dream. Without it being a collective venture, there will not be the essential involvement of its inhabitants. It is crucial to a project being successful, that it should be desired by most of the population, to the point that they commit to it and eventually own it. That’s the true success.

Shahzad Hussain