Folding Bikes Only

  • Ben Kite

Challenging London’s Pseudo-Public Space through guerilla design interventions and a fictional newspaper The commodification of public spaces threatens the democratic health of our cities. Private companies purchase these spaces with the promise of revitalisation and development, and while, on a surface level, these changes appear to be positive, the control that the companies assume is both undemocratic and exploitative. From criminalisasing fundamental human rights such as protesting to pushing out the homeless from the only places they can represent themselves, Privately Owned Public Spaces threaten the health of our cities in a huge way. This project began life as a series of guerilla interventions in the King’s Cross development area, aiming to highlight the problems of Privately Owned Public Space, and challenge the exploitative Public Space Protection Orders in place. This developed into a larger speculative concept, with myself as the spokesperson for a group of guerilla design activists. This concept was communicated through a printed newspaper publication that explored the motivations behind the project, the fundamental issues apparent in these spaces and how the designer can create change through public interventions and protest art. For our final degree show, I turned these interventions into real signs, and created an installation within the gallery that demonstrated their use within public spaces. Alongside the signs were 100 copies of my printed newspaper, that visitors were invited to take, read and own - fulfilling my intention to bring these issues to the attention of the public. This project was featured in the Lecture in Progress Article: "Hot off the press!"