Nowadays, social communication is gradual happen through remote communication devices such as telephone or computer, the raise of physical social interaction and community building are more considered, even in the field of urban design. Creating public spaces is the solution to solve the social problem, however, which public space have the positive impact with social issue is still studying. In this blog, i would like to talk about the idea of Urban living room, which in my perspective, it is a good idea for social issue.
The concept of Urban living room is not new but it is a new term, which just appear in some research. According to Gehl (2015), public space should be consider as living room of the city. Therefore, urban living room is a part of public space that mean it must be used by different group; is place where public life happen; is represented the image of society; a part of community system (Thomas,1991). The term itself shows clearly that Urban living room is implied meeting place, gathering place and communicating place, which take place in outdoor area. However, public space contain various section such as urban feature, public realm system, flow, etc; urban living room is focused on place-making, in which seating and communicating are the key.
Seating with face to face create more chance for social communication.
Where is the attractive seating? First of all, a good place or comfortable place should meet human need including belongingness and love, esteem needs, need for self-actualization, basic needs satisfaction, safety need (Maslow, 1954). Basically, people often sit everywhere they want however, people tend to sit next someone in a typical range, which make them feel safer while guarantee a privacy space Gehl (2010). Therefore, long benches, step or hand railing can make people become closer and create opportunities for communication. However, people can only really communicate with each other when eye-contact is linked. Benches are organized parallel and same orientation like in station, users are not often try to talk with other. In the opposite way, it can be seen that group of people seem to choose a place which they can sit as a circle, face to face. Therefore, urban features which are placed in the right way, can generate chances for social interaction.
Open-air living room in street.
Urban living room is not required a large space like a square or a park. It can be created in a small scale, a setback space from buildings, a extent part of street, even a transport stop. The setting don’t need to be complicated, it just a few chairs, bench and table in comfort environment. Benches or chairs should be set in the outward way that will send an inviting message to sit down and communicate.
In social aspects, the development of the urbanization process with the massive invasion of the high-rise buildings, skyscrapers; urban living room creates opportunities for socializing, outdoor activities, gathering and meeting place. In the eyes of the designers of urban planning and architecture, it optimizes the space, transform a dead space into a lively place in any time of the year, turning an non-function space into a attractive destination. In the eyes of investors, it will help them make optimal saving and investment costs, rising land values, increasing the chances of attracting more customers. Therefore, urban living room should be consider more in design of street layout.
Gehl, J. (2010) Cities for people, London: Island Express.
Gehl, J. (2015) Jan Gehl: Architects know very little about people [online], Available from: http://www.tageswoche.ch/de/2015_12/basel/683236/ [Accessed at 1st May 2015].
Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Row.