One of the many disturbing scenes left by the pandemic was that of parks, first closed and then ruled by circles for different groups of coexistence to be distanced from each other. In an opposite sense, this compressed time has also accelerated and amplified the environmental appreciation of these spaces. The compatibility or not between both visions can synthesize what we are looking for in the call for issue 26 of Ciudades. Can we speak of a health-enhancing open space system? To what extent and how can this system trigger or drive urban regeneration, or, on the contrary, adapt itself to the status quo, with greenwashing as a reinforcer of gentrification and socio-spatial inequality processes?
About a decade ago, the Instituto Universitario de Urbanística, editor of the journal, published two books: Espacio público en la ciudad contemporánea. Perspectivas críticas sobre su gestión, su patrimonialización y su proyecto (2010, coordinated by Mireia Viladevall i Guasch and María Castrillo Romón) and issue 1 of the series Dossier Ciudades, Corredores Ecológicos (2012, coordinated by Luis Santos y Ganges and Pedro María Herrera Calvo), both still valid? Perhaps, the covid-19 challenge would modify the relationships and representations that we establish with public open spaces, accessible and collective, but the compilations of voices in those two publications can also situate these two extremes of reflection on an extended system of open spaces. Its multiscale, multidimensional and multifunctional understanding through the concept of Green Infrastructure aims to address the entire territory, connected. But necessarily the keys will be different if we want to interpret its urban, metropolitan, and even rural essence.
Lefebvre argued, with many others, that public space is a common good, the very essence of the city. But what kind of public space? Richard Sennet, in his book The Conscience of the Eye, stated that the construction of Central Park was the bitterest example of the alternative, the bucolic relief, to the grid, where the complexity of city life could be experienced. Although the alert about this common good never ceases, this past decade can be a good excuse to promote reflections on its trajectories and realities. Let us talk about its existence, its pulse, its comfort, its adaptability to change; its memory or its identity; its physicality or virtuality.
Let us also talk about the future. The risks, challenges and opportunities have taken different paths. The pandemic has “allowed” us to meet again with the public open space, but with a more corporeal awareness of the relationship between bodies and with places. Could this be a unique opportunity to strengthen ecofeminist theories about caring for each other and our common habitat, or, on the contrary, is there a risk of perpetuating an extreme sophistication of the so-called “coexistence bubbles”?
Coordinator of the monographic section:
Marina Jiménez Jiménez