This is the fourth in a series of conversations I had with graduate students from Pratt Institute's Urban Placemaking and Management program, in New York. Coming from diverse professional backgrounds and from different parts of the world, these aspiring Placemakers share their thoughts on their profession, interests and the public spaces they love.
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Here is what Daniel Eizo Miyagusko from Brazil, had to say.
Dhanya: Describe the city you're from. What's your favorite public space from your home city and why?
Daniel: I am from the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. My favorite place in my home town is Vila Madalena neighborhood, where I was born. The place is full of artists and designers ateliers that works during the day and transforms into a vibrant night district.
Dhanya: What is your background in? What brought you to a career in design and placemaking?
Daniel: I am an architect and urban planner with a minor in business. I have worked in the realm of architectural project management and design management. I chose placemaking because I believe that cities shouldn’t be the product of just a designer’s vision; a holistic humanistic approach is the right path for the discipline of architecture and urban planning.
Dhanya: What are your areas of research/design interest?
Daniel: My primary area of interest lies in equity and community based development as well as innovative models of governance. My thesis research looked at the potential of place-based strategies to address conditions of poverty, lack of infrastructure and neglect in the favelas. In essence, I tried to adapt and develop placemaking concepts specific to Latin America and Brazil based on what I have learnt here in the West.
Dhanya: What inspires your professional/academic goals?
Daniel: My inspiration really is to make a difference in cities like mine in Brazil. I think the placemaking approach to cities is what developing countries in particular need in order to achieve better quality of life and witness the impact of changes in a relatively shorter time span.
Dhanya: What is your favorite public space in New York and why ?
Daniel: My favorite public space in NYC is the Myrtle avenue and its pedestrian plaza because it is the commercial street closest to my house and right outside Pratt Institute. The plaza in the summer is used by skaters and even features an art installation that also acts as a shaded seating area. Children love it.
Dhanya: What do you think is missing from the conversation around public spaces?
Daniel: Here in the United states, discussions around neighborhood specific programing, meaningful civic engagement and equity in public spaces is missing.
Dhanya: What according to you is the biggest challenge with respect to public life in the city you are from?
Daniel: For my city, Sao Paulo, the biggest challenge is housing infrastructure. In terms of of the public spaces in Brazil, it is more a concern of right to the city than anything else.
Dhanya: How do you like the public spaces in NYC ? What would you change about it ?
Daniel: I like them a lot in general, but it has many problems with maintenance, especially in old neglected spaces like playgrounds and plazas in the NYCHA developments.
I think the placemaking approach to cities is what sub-developed countries in particular need in order to achieve better quality of life and witness changes and the impact of collective action in a relatively shorter time span.