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Introduction Valentina Talu

In April 2015, Street-Plans principals Antony Garcia and Mike Lydon published «Tactical Urbanism. Shortterm actions for long-term change» (Island Press). I bought the book, inspired both by its title (in particular the clearly deliberate choice of eschewing the over-used term “strategic”) and by the simple but meaningful words by Janette Sadik-Khan, used on the cover: «Tactical Urbanism demonstrates the huge power of thinking small about our cities. It shows how, with a little imagination and the resources at hand, cities can unlock the full potential of their streets». I was intrigued by this sentence for a couple of reasons: to begin with, its mention of the role of imagination (as opposed to knowledge only) as a tool for action. Secondly, the acknowledgement of the importance of (re)manipulating “bricolage” in a urban context brought to mind the ideas of Lévi-Strauss (not necessarily specifically about the design project, conventionally interpreted as a logical sequence of knowledge, decision and action) regarding imagination as a process for an actual enhancement of the quality of urban life. Both these considerations immediately recalled the last passage of one of the earliest article by Jane Jacobs, «Downtown is for people», first published by Fortune in 1958 (and re-published in 2011, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’ influential book «The Death and Life of Great American Cities»): «Designing a dream city is easy; rebuilding a living one takes imagination». Jane Jacobs’ message is particularly important to me, because, right from the beginning, it has inspired both the research and the actions of Tamalacà, the all-female urban planning spin-off company of the University of Sassari (Department of Architecture, Design and Planning of Alghero) that I have cofounded three years ago (the last three microprojects included in the “Case Studies” section of this guidebook have been carried out by Tamalacà, see page 55 onwards).

As I said, I bought the book although I had never heard about Tactical Urbanism before. Reading the book was an extremely interesting experience, for many reasons. In the following pages, I have tried to highlight the concepts that I consider particularly relevant for the Italian context, after the in-depth examination and selection of several case studies (with the help of Paola Bazzu) and the critical re-examination of Tamalacà’s action-research experience. In this brief introduction, I would like to focus on one reason in particular which, although it might be a bit too autobiographical, I think will be useful to share: reading «Tactical Urbanism. Shortterm actions for long-term change» makes me feel less alone. The book has allowed me to give a (very effective) name to the approach that Tamalacà has intentionally chosen since the beginning for its several different micro projects aimed at convertingforgotten, residual spaces into shared public spaces. Another reason is that it has allowed me to feel part of an informal and open international network of several collectives working to promote the urban quality of everyday shared city spaces and to support citizens in constructively reclaiming their denied urban rights. The final reason is that it has allowed me to get to know many Italian collectives that, although with significant differences in terms of both purposes and methods, choose, with professionalism and passion, with creativity and a sense of purpose, to engage in the construction of "many relevant small projects, rather than few big ones" (to quote Arnaldo Bibo Cecchini). I hope that this guidebook can be used as an opportunity and as a learning and exchange tool, as a first step in the recognition and enhancement of a community of tactical practices capable of instigating and driving a process of true innovation and genuine reevaluation of the established regulations, tools and procedures for urban planning and government. 17

Tactical Urbanism Volume 5: Italy (english)  

The fifth in our international series of Tactical Urbanism publications. This volume was led by TaMaLaCà in collaboration with The Street Pl...

Tactical Urbanism Volume 5: Italy (english)  

The fifth in our international series of Tactical Urbanism publications. This volume was led by TaMaLaCà in collaboration with The Street Pl...