We often form our opinion of a city by judging the quality of its public spaces. If they give us a hard time, most likely we won’t be too psyched about returning to it.
And unfortunately, there are plenty of ways urban planners and interior designers ruin our everyday life and force us into dreadful anxiety-inducing situations.
They make us sit on uncomfortable benches, walk around trippy floors, and go number two in bathroom stalls so revealing, others are able to see our facial expressions.
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To learn more about the topic, I got in touch with interior architect and lecturer of interior design at Vilnius College of Design, Judita Striukienė.
When we hear the term public space, we usually think of the outdoors. “Places like parks, gardens, and squares are often popular city attractions,” Striukienė told Bored Panda. “They not only provide environmental and recreational benefits but also form a city’s identity.”#3
No Words Needed Here
As If Public Toilets Didn’t Give Me Enough Anxiety
However, public spaces can also be indoors. “These interiors can be both functional and aesthetic,” Striukienė said.
“Think of health service establishments, for example. A well-executed professional interior design can even have a positive effect on the patients. It can relieve their stress and put them in a calmer state of mind.”
In fact, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, the co-founder of the architecture firm Snøhetta, argues that architects must begin considering indoor space just as public as outdoor space.
“Maybe with the sole exception of railway stations, public space is generally understood as outdoor space,” Thorsen wrote. “Whether in the United States or in Europe, especially now with heightened concerns around security, there seems to be this determined way of privatizing everything that is indoors, even as we are increasingly aiming to improve access to public space outdoors. But in the layered systems of our cities of the future, we will need to focus on the public spaces that are found inside buildings—and make them accessible.”#5
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To get his point across, Thorsen highlighted a map of Rome made in 1748 by Giambattista Nolli. It only had two distinctions—what was private and what was public. “Whether it was indoor or outdoor, whether there was a church space or a plaza, it didn’t really matter. [The map] told a different story of the city.”
“There are some examples from today—the roof of our Oslo Opera House is outdoors, for instance, but it’s on the building and publicly accessible. Opening up the Louvre and trying to let people walk through it 24 hours a day—as with the museum’s recent takeover by the artist JR—is another way of not making a distinction between indoor and outdoor public space.”#6
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