SACRPH 2015: The Unplanned City

The Unplanned City: The Occupation and Creative Reuse of the Built Environment

Jennifer Hock (Maryland Institute College of Art) and Emily Pugh (The Getty Research Institute)

Paper proposals are invited for the proposed paper session “The Unplanned City: The Occupation and Creative Reuse of the Built Environment” at the upcoming Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) conference taking place in Los Angeles, California, November 5-8, 2015.

Zuccotti Park, New York, NY. Occupy Wall Street, Day 47 (2011). Photo by David Shankbone.

In cities throughout the world, people resist and circumvent official planning and development policies by occupying buildings and repurposing the built environment. From Occupy Wall Street’s take-over of Zuccotti Park in New York City to urban casitas and community gardens to self-built housing and squatting movements in London and Berlin, individuals and groups have transformed their neighborhoods and cities in ways both pragmatic and profound.

This panel looks critically at the ways individuals and groups have reused their built environments in an effort to address social, economic, political, or even aesthetic problems and to transform urban life. Rather than seeing the work of marginalized or oppositional groups simply as a struggle for turf, this panel asks how ordinary people conceive of and create alternate spaces—how they work within existing social and legal frameworks to do so, how they build and use these new spaces, and what these new spaces look like.

We invite proposals for papers that will examine the themes of occupation and reuse, considering how and for what reasons individuals and groups have worked to upset or protest official planning policy and how these efforts may or may not have had a broader impact on the urban built environment.

Please send a one-page (250-word) abstract along with a short CV to both Jennifer Hock, Maryland Institute College of Art ( and Emily Pugh, The Getty Research Institute ( by January 15, 2015. Questions are welcome at these addresses, as well.

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