Occupy (Your Town Here) / Protest Architecture
The Site: Sites include downtown city squares, parks, governmental buildings, and financial districts. The scale begins as urban, though the sites may connect to one another like a network, feeding and spreading to new locations regionally or globally. Governmental legal systems break down within these spots as the protestors take up residence in public places regardless of what local police mandate. Social media is also a common way in which these movements take shape, acting as a communication line from the protest spot to mainstream society. I cannot speak much to the uses or misuses of the sites other than the obvious squatting and associated infrastructural problems that arise from such a situation, however it seems that barricades or some defensive measures would be helpful in the more turbulent instances (particularly the Middle East) the world has witnessed in the last year.
The Players: Existing players in most protests are businesses, government agents (authorities or loyalists) and citizens/rebels. In the case of Occupy Wall Street, financial employees were also targeted by the protestors. Relationships vary from peaceful, to confrontational, to outright violent. As every situation seems to vary by location, the agents involved, and the political/economic atmosphere, it becomes difficult to put a universal qualifier forward in describing what the relationships and needs are of these sites. For instance, the Rome occupiers have turned to rioting, those in Chicago were quickly arrested before they could 'dig in', and Ann Arbor has ten people wearing turtle necks and scarves leisurely lounging in the park off Liberty too lazy to even hold up their own signs. The unifying factor however is the ability/inability of these sites to maintain a population for extended amounts of time. In Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, longevity in site occupation and the ability to repel oppositional attacks were fuel for protestors to gain popular sentiment. Occupy New York was the same way, and as the protestors maintained location, people began to take notice. Housing these protestors, protecting them, or crushing them without loss of life before they gather popular support are all opportunities for architectural intervention.
Go to the park off Liberty and Division and talk with the protestors