Just imagine: An artist trying to find a cheap studio space and entering into a limited time contract, which offers space nearly for free. The space is not in the best condition and the artist runs the risk of being thrown out with only a 30 day-notice because better terms cannot be asked for such a bargain…
This image of an artist and, one may argue, opportunistic temporary use, is nothing new. However, is there something more to Temporary Use than just pure chance of exploiting underutilized resource for cheap? Is there something that makes temporary use a real service that could be adopted widespreadly, not just in ad-hoc cases? What kind of value and for whom does it offer and how to preserve it, instead exploiting for short periods of time?
To design or to support Temporary Use as a policy instrument, cities must identify and understand the value for various stakeholders that Temporary Use creates in the local context. The REFILL partner cities are setting some examples by identifying gains of temporary use for different stakeholders.
Temporary Use provides value for municipalities
Friedrich Hayek, one of the most influential economists of 20th century, has defined an inevitable problems that any central authority is facing in pursuing rational economical planning, namely: the lack of local knowledge. It are the citizens themselves, not the municipality, who are often best equipped with information, insights, skills and initiatives that are necessary to develop appropriate social services for their street, neighborhood or the whole city.
However, although possessing these valuable assets, grassroots initiatives are by definition mostly volunteer-based and lack space and other resources to implement their ideas. As a response, municipalities of many of the REFILL city partners are promoting access to temporary use space in exchange for getting experimentation and development of new social services that wouldn’t be possible by grassroots initiatives or municipality alone. Temporary use can offer municipality services like measuring community needs, planning, prototyping, co-creating new social services, maintaining and revitalizing degraded streets and neighborhoods, as well as couching development of new initiatives.
In this series of articles, Mārcis Rubenis from Free Riga and Irīna Miķelsone from the City of Riga (Latvia) are describing some examples of how Temporary Use initiatives can see and market themselves as a form of service.
- Creating social services and supporting social initiatives
- Planning for more successful public spaces
- Maintaining and revitalizing degraded streets and neighborhoods
- Maintenance and co-development of private property