Paris, France, December 16, 2020

The battle for public space - The Urban, season 2 - Episode 3 with Saskia Sassen

At a time when parks and gardens have never been more valuable than since the Covid-19 pandemic, sociologist Saskia Sassen reminds us how precious public space is. This third episode of The Urban, Gecina's podcast on urban lifestyles and the city, is an opportunity to revisit the battle for urban public space, or how we can better come together by staying apart.


  • Saskia Sassen, Dutch-American sociologist and economist, specialist in globalization and the sociology of very large cities around the world
  • Alexandre Labasse, director of Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris, France
  • Report from San Francisco and its slow streets, or the sidewalk revolution

“The most amazing thing about the street is how it neutralizes who you are. We are all here on the sidewalk. Suddenly we share a lot. Rich, poor. Young, old. The solid and simple truth. You are not calculating”.

“One thing that marks a city is its incompleteness and its imperfection. There is no perfect city”.

“Public spaces are actually extremely important. They are a special kind of asset and we should protect it. We should enable it. It is really important, once you begin to drop that, once the public space doesn't matter, are we still in a city or are we just in a vast complex of buildings?”

“This notion that a city and a street can actually be marked by a kind of intelligence and that this is this intelligence that unites the stones, whatever that street is, with the people who use it, it's a nice image”.

Saskia Sassen


Are we witnessing a sidewalk revolution? To find out, The Urban traveled to the land of "car culture", the United States, and more precisely to San Francisco, where the idea of making pedestrian streets is gaining ground. 

Alexandre Labasse, director of Pavillon de l'Arsenal Paris, tells us about the forum 'Et demain on fait quoi' launched during the first confinement and to which more than 150 architects, students, engineers and urban planners responded. Browse through these contributions and discover stimulating and sometimes provocative answers to the challenges facing Paris.

Are we witnessing the return of public space? How can we regulate it, share it better, and make it a source of well-being and inclusion for all? The answers are in The Urban, Gecina’s podcast on urban lifestyles and the city.


The Urban is available on all podcast platforms, Apple PodcastsSpotifyDeezer and on


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