In the city center of Gothenburg, there are lots of shops, restaurants and cafes along the streets. Some activities are supposed to happen here, such as go shopping, have some food or coffee with friends. This type of public space is privatized public space where commercial activities are more advocated than public lives and it makes the space felt routine, formal, submissive, programmed, rigid and limited. But we can always witness that there are some unexpected activities happening at the same time, such as the street band, some decorations put on street spontaneously, which add some different features to the street and make it more temporary, informal, insurgent, unplanned, creative and open-source. This collage shows two different types of activities in urban public space and they together create a dynamic public life.
“How to rebuild the connection between human activities and the urban public space?”
Human activity is dynamic and full of uncertainty, but on the opposite, the environment is often static. This makes the relationship between human activities and the fixed public space become alienated. Either the behavior is standardized by a rigid space, or the “improvisations” happen. If we imagine some kind of intervention in urban public space which is dynamic and could close the relationship between human activities and the environment. Public landscape can also act as a performer, interacting with the users and creating improvisations together.
Improvisation is usually seen as a skill or technique for people to solve problems, express emotions or get sudden inspiration. Improvisation could also be a research method in this project since it contains both emotional and problem-solving aspects. By using different materials at hand for free exploration, it opens up the minds of the people involved to new, unexpected and possibly useful ideas and helps to generate new knowledge. Through model-making and speculative drawing, the final outcome will be formulated spontaneously, which is just the same process as improvisation.
The public furniture on the ground provides people with the chance to sit down and stay here for a while. There are always people sitting and having some food or coffee, talking with friends. And those who passed by also stay in the middle of the road to observe the colorful facades, or walk directly into the square for more exploration. The square looks like a living room in the city center. On the one hand, people can occupy some seats and create their comfort zone. On the other hand, those colorful additions also show people’s desire to decorate this place. For me, this is a potential place for people to create collective narratives by using the method of performative design. But the ground surface of this urban living room is not so friendly, it looks cold, hard and boring. Most of the seats are made of cement, which does not provide people with a comfortable environment.
A living surface
The aim of this project is to change the cold, hard and boring ground surface into dynamic landscape that is warm, soft and colorful, like a living creature which:
– has organic shape, soft touch and can change the form to integrate with human body.
– can respond to human body mechanism such as body heat, heartbeat or breath rhythm in a performative way.
This kind of landscape which interact with the human body could allow people to feel that the surroundings are also living creatures and empathize with them to promote the intimacy between human and the environment. At the same time, it provides a soft and warm surface for the square, providing more comfortable space for people to stay longer.