AESOP TG PSUC 2021 international meeting. BETWEEN THE HOME & THE SQUARE

The Research Unit for South European Cities of the School of Architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, will host the next meeting of the AESOP Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures (AESOP TG PSUC) in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The meeting is entitled “Between the home and the square: bridging the boundaries of public space”. It is structured around the concept of boundaries of public space and the relation between public space and more private spheres of urban life, like the home. By taking an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, the meeting will discuss, challenge and rethink traditional boundaries between public and private, legal and illegal, planned and unplanned, formal and informal, natural and social, digital and material, familiar and uncanny. Moreover, the meeting will reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the making and unmaking of boundaries within the public space as well as between public space and home.

The meeting is organised as a two-day event, which will be preceded by a seven-day workshop. The two-day event will combine keynote speeches, the contributions to the Call for Papers, fieldtrips and roundtables. The workshop will be an international, urban teaching, action research and design workshop that will investigate transformations of housing and public space in sites of major importance in Thessaloniki. It will provide the opportunity for participants to discuss, exchange views, and propose ideas around the topic of boundaries between public and private spaces in Thessaloniki and beyond.

Call for papers

Cities around the world change rapidly in response to processes of financial crises, international migration, climate change, globalisation and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Public spaces are essential ingredients of the urban experience and play a crucial role in this transition (Madanipour et al., 2014). Seeking to understand the ways in which public space can operate as a key component for the creation of ‘inclusive, connected, safe and accessible’ cities (UN Habitat, 2016), the meeting is structured around the concept of boundaries of public space and the relation between public space and more private spheres of urban life, like the home.

Marxist understandings of relational space have already emphasized the need to deconstruct dichotomies between public and private (Lefebvre, 1991). Gender studies have early enough challenged the dichotomy of public and private space (Massey 1984), while more recently, feminist approaches to public space foreground affective care practices, everyday lived experiences and bodily encounters as crucial elements that transcend fixed boundaries in public space (Viderman & Knierbein, 2018). The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light to interrelations of homes, neighbourhoods and public open space accessibility in pragmatic terms of real life, democracy, and its policing. Thus, a critical exploration of the ways in which the boundaries of public space are challenged, and new conceptualisations emerge is nowadays increasingly timely and salient.

The meeting articulates its theme in a way to encourage approaches that:

1. bridge the traditional analytical categories, such as home and public space, public and private, digital and material;
2. bridge the different disciplinary divisions that divide current research and practice and encourage cross-fertilisations and hybrid understandings;
3. bridge the boundaries between research, policy and practice focusing on the ways these three can inform and transform each other;
4. negotiate divisions in public space; age, gender, social, cultural, ethnic, religious and political dimensions as well as issues of social and environmental justice for improving inclusiveness, promoting social and environmental justice and meeting complexity in the public space changing terrain;
5. reflect on new typologies of emerging practices and agents of change that reconstitute lived homes and public spaces.

We invite contributions that address, but are not limited, to one or more of the following themes:

1. Inhabiting the square: exclusionary practices, repression, homelessness, refugees, dissent, participatory / performative appropriation.
2. Housing and public space: spaces of the everyday, neighbourhood spaces, inconspicuous parks, design considerations, everyday routines, psychoanalytic approaches to the public, divided spaces.
3. The limits of publicness: management, authorities, ownership, appropriation, affective, performative and artistic practices, digital contestations and cross-overs.
4. Νegotiating ownership: housing and public space production ‘from below’, housing coops, collective habitation, squats, gated communities, suburban houses, institutional change.

Deadline for abstract submissions: 17 May 2021

Conference site:


Lefebvre, H. (1991) The production of space. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Madanipour, A., Knierbein, S. & Degros, A. (2014) A Moment of Transformation. In: Madanipour, A., Knierbein, S. & Degros, A. (eds.) Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe? New York: Routledge.
Massey, D. (1984) Space, Place and Gender. Cambridge: Polity Press
Viderman, T. & Knierbein, S. (2018) Reconnecting public space and housing research through affective practice. Journal of Urban Design, 1-16.

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