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Everyday urbanism

Written by Reewena John | Edited by Sophiya Islam

Urbanism is the study of urban life, including its organisation, functioning, and interaction with the built environment. It frequently makes references to the study of how residents of urban or urbanising areas interact with the physical and social environments of cities.

The four orientations of urbanism—past, future, expert, and participatory—are separated into categories. Urbanism that is participatory in nature and where residents construct their own unique activities without following any laws or regulations can be referred to as everyday urbanism. Margaret Crawford introduced the idea of everyday urbanism, describing it as "an approach to urbanism that finds its meanings in everyday life".

Everyday activities around the built environment © Reweena John

Everyday urbanism discusses the commonplace for human experience. The very common locations where this human experience occurs are chowks, street edges, bajars, and maidans. Our daily, weekly, and annual routines consist of recurring behaviours and circumstances that have social, spatial, and aesthetic significance.

Unofficial gathering places, also known as "third places," are crucial to community and public life, according to Ray Oldenburg (1991). Third-placed locations "host the regular, voluntary, informal, and eagerly anticipated gatherings of people outside the spheres of home and work." Everyday places include streets, markets, open spaces (maidans), transit hubs, plazas, and places of worship.


In the Indian context, informal and formal activities are interconnected and dependent on one another. A temple, for example, witnesses heavy footfall on a daily basis, making it a suitable anchor for street vendors. While the temple imposes a boundary for its religious activities, the individuals may have a variety of experiences as they engage with the street vendors.

Shops outside Karadi Temple, Nagpur © Arun K

Urban identity

Urban identity is the feeling that a city's residents associate with its environmental, historical, sociological, and physical values. Architecture and urban identity both have a dynamic structure that is susceptible to changes in social and governmental structures. The tangible and intangible components that give a city its unique identity can also be determined by the degree of interconnection, complex societal structures, and urban elements like liveability.

India Gate, Delhi © Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Everyday Urbanism in daily life differs across various contexts. One of the key aspects of everyday urbanism is the presence of the people and activities without any visual boundaries. People's activities and movement give cities their character and enable spaces to adapt for everyday urbanism.


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