Speaking at Day 1 

Emergence of Digital Public Space: harnessing the power of data

Manfredo Manfredini
Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Manfredo studied architecture and urban design in Milan, Rome and Berlin. Since 2016 he is Honorary Professor at the Hunan University, Changsha, China. Manfredo has consistently been involved in fundamental and applied research projects, both locally and internationally research over a wide range of topics in architectural theory and criticism, as well as in design at architectural and urban scales. After teaching architecture and urban design in Italy, Germany and China, since 2010 he has been teaching architecture and urban design at the University of Auckland. His current research interests address post-urban spatialisation forms and correlated design aspects, particularly focusing on valorisation, re-qualification and redevelopment of architectural and urban heritage; affordable and special housing; and education in architecture. Each of these areas has been successfully developed in collaboration with international and multi-disciplinary teams, as proven by the track record of consistent publications, successful grants (national and international) and awards (e.g. first price Biennale di Venezia, Sironi Group), and invited participation in major global events (e.g. United Nation Habitat III).

The (social media) interaction in a (quasi-)public place which is completely locked increases, it indicates the resilience of new place-based social networks.

Insight from "Innovative Approaches and Creative Practices in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic"

With large development and low density being the common form of urbanism in New Zealand, Manfredo looked at how we should rethink the role of public space when there are so many transformative changes taking place, specifically at “distributed participatory creativity and creative destruction of the malled metropolitan centres of Auckland”. Manfredo pointed out how worrying for the sustainable development of cities (New Urban Agenda) is that cities like Auckland have designated as major urban metropolitan centres some areas entirely occupied by shopping malls. His findings confirm the acceleration of the creative destruction of public space led by the shopping mall sector. The analysis of crowdsourced social media data has shown the emergence of an antagonist new type of shopping malls that supplants the traditional ones. This is a ‘post-consumerist’ (S. Miles) mall, where ‘consumption and production are intertwined and often impossible to differentiate’ (G. Ritzer). Data showed visually-based Instagram–a prime relational platform for young (18-39 years old) New Zealanders–increasing its usage during the lockdown. Being a place- and experience-based service, Instagram’s prime nodes have moved away from the public space and, particularly quasi-public space, such malls that were completely shut during the lockdown period. For example, St Lukes–epitome of the traditional consumerist mall–saw a sharp usage decline. Unexpectedly, Sylvia Park–epitome of the post-consumerist mall–saw an increase of interaction. The performance of Sylvia park indicates the resilience of its socio-spatial centrality, its capacity to continue constituting a main reference for its existing social networks notwithstanding its inaccessibility: a place where the distributed participatory creativity “creatively” reshapes the instituted civic system.