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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long time lurker but first time poster

The traditional values that we see in public space as facilitators for social interaction and providers of a sense of communal feeling have decreased in their importance. Many of our contemporary public spaces have been ‘emptied' and made homogenous by the modern movement in order to provide for the general collectivity of all functions. However, they are often seen to only serve as symbolic spaces more than the actual use as social incubators. The vibrant daily public life and gatherings for which these modern public spaces have been created for are often non-existent or merely used by tourists. New forms of public spaces like our shopping malls and supermarkets have emerged to unconsciously replace those traditional public spaces, in their everyday use, as the space for the public realm. These new forms of big box ‘public spaces' consequently discourages personalized interaction as exchanges are reduced to a minimum.

To date, Malls have tended to increasingly isolate members of a society, and have subsequently eroded any sense of community - lounging in the Food Court is a poor substitute for civic engagement. There are two primary reasons for this; first, the Mall has no residential component, second, the Mall has failed to replace the lost civic space it has usurped. The Mall is less a piece of architecture than a fairly cold economic machine, driven by the need to limit risk for the investors and maximize return (at the expense of all other concerns).

I am interested in the spaces which encourage casual interaction, reflect the individual and allow for identity. Can anyone give some contemporary examples of shopping streets, dark alleys, public parks, traffic islands… where a balance is found between the commercial machine and the individual?

Somewhere that encourages casual interaction and sense of community?

Thanks :shifty:
 

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It sounds like you are searching for something akin to the old Parisian arcades. That model isn't very common today just due to the nature of consumer demand.
 

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Too true

But without the traditional low-cost shopping areas you get social exclusion. Market forces will always push towards franchise stores and high floor area/high rent units, but there is still a demand (and will always be) for a bargain, for smaller independent stores that nurture the environment beyond the window display.
 

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ONE WORLD
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Most contemporary urban spaces are now very anti-mall and anti-=gated-community in UK, which was all the rage in the 80s and 90s. Theres basically a law that now stipulates all new development needs to be mixed with between 30-50 percent devoted to low income familes, even if its a luxury development.

The mayors plans for the future is to encourage residential to mix with commercial, eg houses above a factory yard with shops behind etc.

However despite many malls being cancelled, the biggest one yet to come is currently being built in White City in West London :(. Also Tesco's (UKs equivalent to Wal-Mart) are still making inroads into urban London from their traditional suburban territories, despite protests. A landmark ruling the other month that refused planning permission has recnetly stalled their progress, but not sure for long.


Anyway, heres a sterling example of a private conversion of one of the thousands of hidden courtyards on almost every block in the Victorian cityplan, Neals Yard that bucked the trend against the unregulated developers in the 80s and early 90s. Its still a success despite the neighbouring streets being trammeled by millions of Covent Garden tourists and the independent shops (such as the Kite Shop and the Natural Shoe Co.) having given way to hip chain stores ):


 

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spaghetti polonaise
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Too true

But without the traditional low-cost shopping areas you get social exclusion. Market forces will always push towards franchise stores and high floor area/high rent units, but there is still a demand (and will always be) for a bargain, for smaller independent stores that nurture the environment beyond the window display.
In many german cities it is different. We have shopping streets here which lack diversity: Either they are full of chain-stores like H&M, Zara and the like. Or they are full of fast-food-giveaways and ultra-cheap-1-euro-shops. Or they are so exclusive that only rich people can afford buying there.
 

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I am interested in the spaces which encourage casual interaction, reflect the individual and allow for identity. Can anyone give some contemporary examples of shopping streets, dark alleys, public parks, traffic islands… where a balance is found between the commercial machine and the individual?

Somewhere that encourages casual interaction and sense of community?
Manchester has quite a good recent example of this, which is the Cathedral Gardens.

 

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I think you might like this one.

It's called "City Lounge" in the town of St. Gallen, Switzerland. The outdoor plaza looks like an indoor lounge, with red carpet along the streets and flowing over the street furniture. Truely unique in the world.

Remember, this is outside.







You can see where it is on this map: http://www.st.gallen-bodensee.ch/pdf_doc/stadtplan_sg.pdf
 

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spaghetti polonaise
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The place in St.Gallen is awesome. It looks almost unreal.

Come to think of it: The Jungfernstieg in Hamburg might fit to what you are aiming at. The brown benches can be moved from one side to another (unless the stairs interrupt the way).


 
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