About Us

Cities by Citizens is a blog about cities, people and planning for the future of cities, in an environment extreme uncertainty and rapid change.

For most of human history, cities have been made by small inputs from a central authority about buildings and public spaces, and many individual and collaborative decisions made directly by their citizens.

Only with 20th Century modernist planning has the pendulum swung far towards centralised control. Today, almost all decisions about public space are made by central authority. Citizens have to ask for permission to do just about anything to, in or with their public spaces.

But the 21st Century brings a new chance for citizens to re-engage with their urban surrounds. Citizens are questioning the slow pace of government response and action. Governments are contending with disengaged citizens who are not co-responsible for their own environments.

But the solutions might be simpler than you think. Worldwide, we are seeing new strategies for urban change emerge, and a reconnection with old processes. Propelled by rapid urban growth, citizens are transforming their local neighbourhoods through temporary land uses, youth enterprise, smart phones and other less conventional approaches: a global experiment. 

This blog exists to document, explore and discuss that experiment.

About the authors

Lucinda Hartley is a landscape architect and urban designer who has spent the better part of a decade working to better connect people with places. She advises locally and globally on approaches to urban development that are faster, cheaper and simpler.

David Week is an architect and international development professional with some thirty years experience in the scoping, planning, design, management, monitoring and evaluation of culturally appropriate infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region. He is a thought leader on community development and urban strategy.

The Book

David and Lucinda are currently writing a book on this global experiment.

Your comments will help inform this book.

Write a Comment


  1. Hi!

    Thank you for this initiative! A thorough discussion about cities by citizens is overdue.

    There are some nice examples in “The Lure of the City”, a recently published book dealing with, among other issues, the variety of possible urban development measures: from big plans to small scale “self organization”.

    While the few can never really claim to represent the many, the many can never really claim to represent me, the individual.

    – Christian

    • Thanks for your comment Christian, and an important point. One of the defects of representative democracy is that no one can really represent the many, the defects of direct or popular democracy is that there are few protections for the minority. We’ll see if we can explore this further in a future post.

      I’ll grab a copy of “The Lure of the City”.

      — David

      PS: I’ve followed your site for a while now, and you’ve reminded me to visit again.

  2. Lewes, an ancient town of 17,000 people in the South of England has an active and growing community fighting to maintain a strong creative community that has developed in what was industrial warehouses. The 14 acre site was sold to developers expecting to fill it with generic housing. Impressive traction happening as opposition grows to these plans, but with imaginative, low cost, sustainable alternatives (for large part of the site). So we’re very interested in what you’re discussing.