Can a good public space influence social behavior and make a city more secure?
In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, professor at the University of Stanford, performed a social psychological experiment. He placed an unlicensed car with a lifted hood in a neglected street in The Bronx, New York, and another similar car in a wealthy neighborhood of Palo Alto, California. The car in The Bronx was attacked in less than ten minutes, its apparent state of abandonment enabling the looting. The car in Palo Alto, however, remained untouched for more than a week.
Zimbardo then took his experiment one step further and broke a window of the car in Palo Alto. Almost immediately, passersby began to take things out of the car and within a few hours, the car had been completely dismantled. In both cases, many of the looters did not appear to be dangerous people. This experiment lead Harvard Professors George Kelling and James Wilson to develop the Broken Windows Theory in 1982: “If a broken window is left without repair, people will come to the conclusion that no one cares about it and that there is no one watching it. Then more windows will be broken and the lack of control will spread from the buildings to the streets, sending a signal that anything goes and that there is no authority.”
Read more about designing safer cities after the break…
Richard Meier recently discussed his perspective on creating public spaces. He expands on his experiences of designing numerous buildings across the globe and their importance in relation to public spaces. He discourses how the Getty Center in LA fosters a special environment for all activities, whether it be viewing the entire city or participating in cultural activities – the surroundings of the building are just as important as the structure itself. He also comments on the significance of the square that is encompassed on one side by his Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and its destination as a mecca for teenage skateboarders and the seniors that come to watch the youths. Interestingly enough, his talk emphasizes the places that surround the architecture, the idea that the intent is not about making a building or monument, it is about creating a place and making a statement. This in turn makes for a much more exciting architectural experience – because it is the spaces that objects make that we inhabit.
It began on December 17th, 2010, when 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match in front of the provincial-capital building in Tunisia. Mannoubia Bouazizi stated, “My son set himself on fire for dignity.” Her 16-year-old daughter added, “In Tunisia, dignity is more important than bread.”
All over the world, the protestors of 2011 have stood-up for fairness and freedom. “Do-it-yourself democratic politics became globalized, and a real live protest went massively viral.” Authoritarian acts of violence and forceful evictions from “public” squares further exposed what the protestors were fighting for. In effort to honor the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our world during these past twelve months, TIME has named the 2011 person of the year as “The Protester”.
In June 2008, Transportation Alternatives launched the competition 21st Century Street. Partecipants to the competition should redesign the intersection between 9th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, in order to allow more space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transports.
On December 9, 2008, the results of the competition have been announced, and you can see the winners after the break.
drdharchitects has won first place in the international competition to design a new library and concert hall in Bodø, Norway.
The Bodø Kulturhus and Library will consist of two public buildings; a new city library (5,500m²) and a three-auditorium concert hall (7,350m²), creating a new cultural centre for the Norwegian coastal city.
The results of the competition were announced in Bodø, Norway on 27 February. drdharchitects beat five other practices to win the invited competition, including CF Moller, Medplan, General Architecture, Langdon Reis Zahn and Lundgaard & Tranberg.