Temporary appropriation and informality

Jose Antonio Lara-Hernandez, Alessandro Melis, Claire Coulter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This paper seeks to explore the definitions and uses of both informality and temporary appropriation in an urban context. Temporary appropriation is usually overlooked and misinterpreted as a form of informal practice. By separating temporary appropriation from informality, we have been able to create a simpler model for understanding urban informality, whilst at the same time crystallising temporary appropriation as a concept in its own right. We challenge the existing definitions of informality as applied in studies concerning informal practices in the Global North and argue that some understandings of informal behaviour in urban settings could be better understood when viewed as forms of temporary appropriation. We provide a categorisation of temporary appropriation by providing examples from different cities and cultures and show that there is a definite need for a deeper understanding of temporary appropriation and its relationship with the urban informality of any socio-cultural landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTemporary Appropriation in Cities
Subtitle of host publicationHuman Spatialisation in Public Spaces and Community Resilience
EditorsAlessandro Melis, Jose Antonio Lara-Hernandez, James Thompson
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-32119-2, 978-3-030-32120-8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


  • informality
  • temporary appropriation
  • urban informality


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