The Centre and Periphery: The Role of City Embankments and Youth Practices
The article focuses on city embankments as social and spatial developments, which are an essential attribute of the city and an integral element in the lifestyle of citizens. As a contact point between the city and the water, embankments act as public spaces that exercise a wide range of functions. They also become points of attraction for various social groups, including young people. In the study conducted in autumn of 2021, we focused on the embankments of a large industrial city (Yekaterinburg, Russia). The “centre-periphery” vector was used as the basis for the typology of embankments, and the value young people attach to embankments has been determined. Using the methods of observation and interviews (n = 16), it was found that the leading functions of the central embankments in the views of city youth are communicative, aesthetic, integrative, leisure, including flânerie, cognitive, transit, self-awareness, security, and identity assertion. Peripheral embankments structure the city space, develop neighbourhood identity and support the function of spending free time. At the same time, undeveloped areas of the periphery are being marginalised and become dangerous. The article argues for the need to develop peripheral embankments through well-maintained footpaths, access to water, leisure and recreational infrastructure, creating comfortable living conditions for the “appropriation” of embankments and their social production through the actions and interactions of different groups of citizens, including young people.