Exemplary Amateurism: Thoughts on DIY Urbanism

Ann Deslandes

Abstract

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) urbanism has become increasingly recognised as a non-professional and non-technocratic practice of urban alteration and community building. Already thus marked as ‘amateur’ in the contemporary sense (where the lines between amateur, professional, producer and consumer are significantly blurred), two of its key features are support for ‘proam’ cultural production and the ‘meanwhile’ use of commercial buildings. Within this, DIY urbanism is an important reference to economic and spatial scarcity in the Australian, English and North American cities where it has manifested as a discourse. The reference is particularly evident in the proximity to marginal urban space that participants in DIY urbanism share with other potential users of that space, which includes people experiencing primary homelessness. It is through this proximity that DIY urbanism works as a kind of ‘exemplary amateurism’. DIY urbanism demonstrates spatial scarcity in the city — a phenomenon in which amateur labour, 'meanwhile' use of buildings and homelessness are implicated.


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