Tactical Urbanism: Short-term action for long-term change

See updated version of this article here.

Why wait for neighborhood change when you can do it yourself?

Citizens are taking into their own hands at improving the livability of their neighborhoods and cities, investing in demonstrations of what a vacant space or underutilized street could look like. This growing guerrilla, pop-up, D.I.Y. movement is collectively known as tactical urbanismThe folks at The Streets Plan Collaborative have even written a guide, Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change. Below are the tactics described and beautifully illustrated in the book:


  • Site Pre-Vitalization – Temporary activation of a development site, often using shipping containers. Cooltown post.

Underutilized Streets:

Vacant Spaces:

Guerilla Intervention

  • Chair Bombing – Homemade seating in public spaces “to improve comfort, social activity, and sense of place”. DoTank: Chair Bombing.
  • Informal Bike Parking – Non-government installed bike racks that are functional indications of where permanent bike parking is needed.
  • Ad-Busting – Removing and altering of billboards and large advertising signage. Ad busting on Tumblr.
  • Reclaimed Setbacks – Activating front yards to become more community-oriented.
  • Weed Bombing – Converting weed overgrowth into landscaped works of art. Weed bombing on Tumblr.

Entrepreneurial Development

  • Food Carts/Trucks – Essentially pop-up cafes on wheels, prevalent in most every major city. Cooltown post.
  • Mobile Vendors – Aka street vendors, and including bicycle vendors.
  • Micro-Mixing – Mixing multiple businesses in a single retail space, like a cafe, bar, bookstore, theater: Cooltown article.

Social Change

  • Pop-Up Town Hall – A non-government meeting space to discuss the future of one’s city.
  • Camps – Temporary occupying of space with intention of social change (i.e. Occupy movement), disaster relief, or experimentation/prototyping (Burning Man).

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