FUTURE LAGOS | Watch: Re-Imagining the Civic Commons

“A civic space needs to reflect the authenticity and assets of the community around it”

As part of Re-Imagining the Civic Commons, an MAS’ project with the James L. Knight Foundation, a panel of experts discuss how best to leverage shared public assets to make cities more economically competitive, livable, and just.

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by Olamide Udoma

Also Read: Parks and Gardens Development: The Lagos Example – A Response

In Lagos public space is still solely defined as parks or recreational space. However, there are so many spaces that can be defined as civic assets. Civic assets are public spaces, including libraries, parks, trails, plazas and community centers. In the last 10 years, worldwide, public space has acquired renewed interest relating to the sustainability of cities. Public space is now regarded as an essential ingredient in urban development.

With budding spaces in New York and innovative management structure that are pushing and stretching the idea of public space and how people engage with their environment and society there are lessons that can be learnt.

This video is a discussion session chaired by Carol Coletta (Vice President, National & Community Initiatives, Knight Foundation) with a panel consisting of Jonathan Bowles (Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future), Regina Myer (President, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Tim Tompkins (President, Times Square Alliance).

All three speakers discussed partnerships, programming and finance within the context of their experience working with civic assets:

  • It takes a nexus of design and programming to develop a rich great place
  • Let the public know how what they are enjoying is financed
  • Civic spaces should feed the needs of a cities population
  • Spaces need to be multifunctional and this can be done through partnerships
  • Libraries have the potential to be empowerment institutions
  • State budgets needs to be unpacked so they can feed into diverse services
  • Space should not be solely physical, these can at times be limiting, through partnerships and technology spaces can become larger and less restrictive
  • Streets and sidewalks are becoming civic assets
  • How do we manage spaces that are legally described as roads; spaces that are not designated for a recreational purpose?
  • A civic space needs to reflect the authenticity and assets of the community around it
  • Technology is a digital extension of the physical community that allows the connection of different assets
  • In an urban environment new spaces do not need to be created, reviving existing latent spaces can benefit communities


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The Economics of Sustainable Cities



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About FutureLagos

Olamide Udoma is a researcher, writer and filmmaker holding degrees in BSc Architecture, MA Design and MPhil Infrastructure Management. Olamide has worked in London, South Africa and Nigeria with various organisations focusing on transport management, slum upgrading and housing rights in urbanising African cities. At Our Future Cities NPO, she is the Lagos manager and editor.