Khan, Ahmed Z. “On Design and Politics of Co-producing Public Space: The Long Marches and the Reincarnation of the ‘Forecourt’ of the Pakistani Nation.” In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 2, Number 1 (pp. 125-156), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2013.
The rise in the political power of social media technologies has led to claims about their democratizing and empowering functions. On the one hand, the a-spatial theorization of this ‘rise’ undermines the value and role of public space. On the other, it raises questions about traditional ways of conceptualizing this space. With the intention of broadening the concept of public space, this article investigates key socio-political processes behind temporal events like the ‘long march’ or Occupy movements, and how spatial forms of streets and public spaces interact in producing the image, value and meaning of public space. I assemble a theoretical framework in order to analyse a specific case: the ‘long marches’ and reincarnation of the ‘forecourt’ of the Pakistani nation that materialized in three public spaces in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. By focusing on the spatiality of contemporary long marches, my analyses carefully unravels the intertwinement of design and politics in socio-spatial … these public spaces, and concludes that social processes and spatial forms co-define each other.
Keywords: Pakistan; co-production; design; long march; new media; place-making; public space