Temporary Urbanism as a Means of Appropriating and Reuvinating Residual Space along the Rhondda Valley Train Line.
Philip Henshaw has completed five years of architectural education at the Welsh School of Architecture graduating with a BSc in 2006 and an MArch in 2007. He has also gathered substantial architectural experience working for architectural practices in England and Wales. At present, he is employed at the WSA as a Post-Graduate Teaching Assistant to the MA in Urban Design whilst pursuing an MPhil by design.
Following the mid-19th Century emergence of mass coal mining in the Rhondda Valley, the once pastoral farm land had by 1924 increased its population by an astonishing 5500%. From this peak, the Second World War initiated a rapid process of 'shrinking' impacting both its economy and urban density, as well as reducing its population by an alarming 52%. Now in the 21st century, the post-industrial Rhondda is a visibly troubled landscape of shrinking territories. In order to address this complex condition, the research explores the concept of temporary urbanism and its potential to re-activate space.
Temporary urbanism is an alternative and dynamic concept in urban design used to describe a broad range of theories, agendas, everyday urban situations and architectural or artistic projects, all of which are characterised by a definitively short or ambiguous lifespan. Temporary urbanism can be expedient and low-cost, employed to unite communities, support entrepreneurship, enliven public space or even occupy frozen construction sites. When a strategy of temporary urbanism is explored on case study sites in the Rhondda, the inquiry reveals key tactics specific to the Valley such as; attracting tourism, reinforcing heritage, engaging the industry, encouraging inter-generational exchange, stewardship and collaborative partnerships. However, the research also reveals issues and dilemmas associated with temporary urbanism, predominantly the question of legality, deregulation, the role of the 'designer', limitations of conventional site analysis, key agents and relationships, as well as the politics of post-industrial landscapes.
The research concludes that the territorial synchronisation of small-scale temporary use projects within the Valley's existing infrastructure and events networks, could serve as viable catalysts for re-activating residual space and a tool of empowerment for local communities.