The Right to the City

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If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Right to The City was an exhibition and publishing project that brought together a series of artistic, theoretical and philosophical escape plans. These escape plans ranged from the whimsical to the more serious, and presented real or imagined ways of reinventing life in our cities. The project explored the challenge of “putting foundations” under “castles in the air” – seeking connections between art, architecture, philosophy and action.

In thinking through those connections, The Right to the City took as its starting point David Harvey’s famous article that redefined urban existence as a contested part of modern democracy: “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights”. Given the perilous environmental predicament we find ourselves in, coupled with our intensifying urbanisation, many artists, activists, planners and architects are seeking ways to “remake” the city in more socially connected and sustainable ways.

Curated by Zanny Begg and Lee Stickells

Review in Architecture Australia.


Tin Sheds Gallery
April 3-30, 2011

Participating artists: atelier d’architecture autogérée (Paris), Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (Australia), Milkcrate Urbanism (Australia), D.V. Rogers (NZ/Australia), Marjetica Potrč (Slovenia), Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley (UK), Bababa International (Australia), Temporary Services (USA), SquatSpace (Australia) and Makeshift: Tessa Zettel and Karl Logge (Australia), DIY Urbanism curated by Joni Taylor (Australia).


The Right to the City catalogue, edited by Zanny Begg and Lee Stickells, 2010.

The Right to the City, a 112 page, full colour publication, edited by Zanny Begg and Lee Stickells with contributions from atelier d’architecture autogérée (Paris), Dr Margaret Crawford (USA), David Harvey (USA), Marjetica Potrc (Slovenia), Anna Plyushtev (UK), Joni Taylor, Claire Healy and Sean Cordiero and D.V. Rogers among others. To view a PDF version of the catalogue click here.

Keynote Lecture: Rethinking Rights, Rethinking Cities

Margaret Crawford
Faculty of Architecture Design and Planning
University of Sydney
6.30pm Friday April 8 2011

Margaret Crawford delivered a keynote lecture, bridging between the exhibition opening and the symposium. Margaret Crawford is Professor of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the evolution, uses and meanings of urban space. Her book, Building the Workingman’s Paradise: The Design of American Company Towns, examines the rise and fall of professionally designed industrial environments. She edited The Car and the City: The Automobile, the Built Environment and Daily Urban Life and Everyday Urbanism, and has published numerous articles on shopping malls, public space, and other issues in the American built environment. Her recent book Nansha Coastal City: Landscape and Urbanism in the Pearl River Delta was published in early 2006 and co-edited by Alan Berger.

Symposium: The Right to the City

Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
University of Sydney
10-6pm, Saturday April 9, 2011

Presentations by: Ann Deslandes, Sydney, Kurt Iveson, University of Sydney, Sarah Barns, University of Technology, Sydney, Josh Harle, College of Fine Art, University of NSW, Ian Woodcock, University of Melbourne and Julian Rickert, Cathy Smith, University of Queensland, Charles Walker, Auckland University of Technology, Ryan Al-Natour, University of Western Sydney, Nada Filipovic, RMIT University, James Arvanitakis University of Western Sydney and Spike Boydell, University of Technology Sydney, Laura McLean and Melody Williams, Sydney, Paul Byron and Jessie Lymn, Sydney, Rochus Urban and Mick Douglas, Melbourne, Patrick Jones, Victoria, Public Assembly, Melbourne, Jason Workman, Melbourne, Mimi Zeiger, New York, Marjetica Potrč, Ljubljana, Hélène Frichot, RMIT University, Caroline Hamilton, RMIT University, Teresa Stoppani, University of Technology, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Atelier d’architecture autogérée, Paris, Jai McKenzie, University of Technology Sydney, Amon Beyerle, Monash University, Jonathon Mosley, Bristol, Hugo Moline, Sydney, Jesse Adams Stein, Sydney, Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne, Emily Potter, Deakin University, and Janet McGaw, University of Melbourne

Edible Garden:

Tin Sheds Gallery, in conjunction with volunteers and architecture students from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning are building a small edible garden as part of the exhibition.

Public Art:

Offsite projects in and around the Tin Sheds Gallery.


The Right to the City, 2011

RealTime ‘The Artist as Citizen’ review by Ella Mudie
Architecture Australia ‘The Right to the City’ review by Linda Carroli


This project has been generously supported by: the Australia Council for the Arts, the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, and the NSW Ministry for the Arts.