Dispossessing the public : privatization of open public spaces in Lima, Peru
Author(s)Chong Lugon, Daniela.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Lawrence J. Vale.
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The Metropolitan Area of Lima has on average 3.6m² of green area per person, for a total of 10 million inhabitants. Although this is not the most accurate metric, it is the most available proxy to measure and understand the magnitude of open public space in the city. In addition, it is not equitably distributed: districts with higher socioeconomic levels and larger municipal budgets have greater area and higher quality public spaces. In a context of inequitable distribution on quantity and quality, one of the biggest threats that public spaces face is their privatization, a process in which a space is dispossessed from the public and transformed for a private or restricted use.From sidewalks, streets, parks, and plazas, to natural spaces such as beaches and the coastal lomas natural ecosystems, in recent years, these unprotected areas have become shopping centers, supermarkets, parking lots, private clubs, formal and informal housing, amusement parks, synthetic grass courts, and other infrastructure that has altered at some degree its openness, ownership, accessibility, and function. This shift from public to private spaces ultimately reduces the opportunity of all citizens to have available open public spaces, increases social fragmentation, and ultimately deepens issues of social injustice and spatial inequalities. In such a scenario, this thesis examines the conditions under which open public spaces are privatized and identifies the mechanisms.Through different case studies and interviews, I create three types that attempt to explain the different forms in which privatization develops to expose the motivations behind it, the processes of how it happens, the actors who are involved, and the manifestations it has in the built environment. The first type is Concession for Development, and takes place when public space is rented to private entities in the form of concessions with the excuse of bringing development and improvement. The second is Appropriation for Livelihood, and occurs when public space is informally appropriated to fulfill a basic need such as housing or a productive activity. The third is Enclosure for Control, and results when public space is enclosed and its access is restricted in order to provide safety or facilitate its management. I analyze and expose the structural governance conditions and flaws in current planning processes -- formal and informal, top-down and bottom-up --that lead to privatization in order to help create awareness about how and why this invisible phenomenon takes place and who is most affected by it. Finally, this thesis proposes recommendations that can help Lima and other Peruvian cities promote the protection and preservation of public spaces and also encourage a more equitable distribution.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, September, 2020Cataloged from student-submitted PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-78).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.