The introduction to the book will frame the context of participatory design, open spaces and self-built structures in regard to community gardens and casitas in New York City. Community gardens with self-built structures have existed in New York City as a shared open space land use in low-come neighborhoods like the South Bronx for four decades, despite conflicting land use interests, changing residents groups and contradictory city planning. Both community gardens and self-built structures are created in a participatory design and self-built effort by urban residents and are an expression of the individual gardeners’ preferences, their cultural background and the decisions made by the managing residents’ group in regards to the needs of their neighborhood. Ultimately community gardens with self-built structures are an expression of the people’s will to commonly use this land for open and enclosed structures next to their homes in the city and need to be included in future urban planning.
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