Protest activities are a part of the democratic process, although in recent years, we have witnessed several protests rapidly escalating into violent clashes, as evidenced by but not exclusive to the riots in the UK which started in Tottenham, north London. The reasons for dissent vary from economics, to social, to political, although they are usually intertwined, and yet one thing remains constant – key protests take place in major cities – from Barcelona and Athens in Europe, to the cities involved in the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. Although there have been many researches that discuss urban protests from the angle of sociology, there is a lack of discussion regarding the space and urban form itself (Salmenkari, 2009).
The objective of this research is twofold – it is both to study the geography of the protests and also whether the architecture of the places play a role in protests. To do this, the research is focused on the organised protests of political movements, where there are clear demands presented – as opposed to the more organic riots that stem out of seemingly random events.
Nurul Azlan is a PhD Candidate at Design as Politics. An architect trained at the University of Technology Malaysia, she received a Masters in Architecture (Urban Design) from the Bartlett, UCL in 2007. Her research interest lies in the power structure that shapes and governs public space in postcolonial societies, and how social media plays a role in redistributing that power and reshaping the public sphere.