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Fig: 1 – Tahrir square focal point of Egyptian Revolution (Credits-Ahmed Abd El-Fatah)


Public space is a form of democracy. It is a space of freedom of movement, expression, and most importantly, it is our first contact with a city. In cities around the world, urban spaces such as urban squares, markets, streets, temples, and parks have long been the centres of civic life for urban dwellers. They provide opportunities for gathering, socializing, recreation and festivals.

Aside from recreation, public space has also been seen as an expression of power and a subject of political control. Under medieval monarchy in the West or during colonial rule, public spaces were where political power/protests were staged, displayed, and legitimized. In the totalitarian societies of recent times, certain large public spaces serve as military parade grounds – a raw display of power to impress citizens as well as imbibe fear in enemies. Over time as the power has shifted to the people, public spaces have at last provided a legitimate space for protests and demonstrations – an expression of the freedom of speech. The essay seeks to explore how and in what ways can our community and public spaces react to protests and demonstrations of power.

Fig: 2 – Construction materials used as barricades for protests in Hong Kong (Credits- Kim Cheung)


In your research, you should particularly reflect on how public spaces and today’s political protest affect each other. The views are expected to be analytical and precise.

What is a public space? And how has it changed in past years?

  • What is your understanding of a protest or a power demonstration and it was/is displayed?
  • How do our public spaces transition in times of protests/political action? Are they equipped to handle the chaos? If yes, how do spatial parameters of public space help to amplify dialogue?
  • Can these parameters be controlled? If yes, how and in what ways?

With increasing political instability around the world,

How do we achieve a good design of our future public space that is not only for passive and active recreation but also provides the opportunity of freedom of speech and open dialogue for all?


Participants shall deliver an essay of about 1000 - 1500 words and less than 3 images, in a cohesive piece that answers the above questions and arguments based on them. The images need to be ensured that they are copyright free or you own their rights.