JCDecaux, Public-Private Space

Joanne Pouzenc

When in 1964, the young entrepreneur Jean-Claude Decaux invented the “Street Furniture”, he couldn’t foresee the immense success of his company 50 years later. Present in every continent, in the streets of 4435 cities, on the walls of 231 airports, JCDecaux is the number one outdoor advertising specialist in the world, reaching more than 400 million people daily. Behind this company saga, the French pioneer had a simple idea: to create, implement and maintain urban furniture displaying extra advertisement surfaces he exclusively exploits and therefore multiply exponentially its profit possibilities. This idea, rather economical than urban or architectural, marks the origin of public-private ventures. Despite the quality of JCDecaux products, our global streets became contractual rather than political, questioning the nature of power citizens and politics truly have over their own spaces. What can we learn from JCDecaux’s development and strategy? Isn’t the right to the city applicable to imposed visual communication in public space? How to give back to the citizens the freedom to orientate the profit they initiate? What if JCDecaux’s benefits were redistributed to local communities?

Funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the Senate Department of Culture.

Shared Cities: Creative Momentum (SCCM) is a European cultural platform addressing the contemporary urban challenges of European cities. SCCM is a joint project of Goethe-Institut (DE), Czech Centres (CZ), reSITE (CZ), Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (SK), Association of Belgrade Architects (RS), Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre – KÉK (HU), Katowice City of Gardens (PL), KUNSTrePUBLIK (DE), Mindspace (HU), Old Market Hall Alliance (SK), Res Publica – Cities Magazine (PL). Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.