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January 3, 2024

Guerrilla Urbanism: Urban Design and the Practices of Resistance

Hou, J. (2020). Guerrilla urbanism: urban design and the practices of resistance. Urban Design International (London, England), 25(2), 117–125.

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Unsanctioned, unscripted, and seemingly “undesirable” activities have long appropriated urban spaces in routine and sometimes unexpected ways, bringing new meanings and unforeseen functions to those places. In the last decade or so, such practices have inspired a growing movement under the banner of DIY and tactical urbanisms. The growing acceptance of these practices creates important openings in the formalized planning systems for greater fexibility and expedient change. Yet, the institutionalization of previously informal and even subversive acts has resulted in concerns regarding co-optation and de-politicization. This special issue seeks to pivot a refocus towards these unsanctioned and unscripted urban activities as a form of counter-hegemonic spatial practices, distinct from its professionalized and institutionalized counterpart. A range of cases is examined here sharing similar characteristics as challenges against the prevailing social and political paradigm. Key findings include the scalability of guerrilla actions, the fuid shift between overt and covert actions, and the linkage between everyday struggles and organized resistance. This special issue is intended to advance our understanding of urban design by situating it in a broader social, economic, and political praxis that encompasses both formal and informal practices performed by a wide variety of individual and collective actors.


Guerrilla urbanism; Tactical urbanism; Insurgent planning; Spatial practices; Everyday resistance