• ‘The city is a place of encounters, unexpected discoveries and social exchange where citizens are taken on a new journey time after time.’

babylon a rise

This is home

he coughed a little

then returned to his haunt

a warmth of hiding in the dark

this city know no one

it wont ask a name

we seek softness

in created places

forged realities and half notions of blundering success

the adverts tell us we need more

we buy more

we feel less

its get thrown away and made into a new castle

Awaiting notice

I stumbled here and stepped tentaively into a world I was not welcome

suddenly a camera was seen a dangerous weapon allowing an imprint of these lives to be taken

life in a pea green boat

a sea of dirty clothes

next to paradise forum

no map negates

site walks LABAN 09

a playground?

a stage?

A home?

a new flat block?

Is it possible to create creative spaces? An evaluation of the role of observational practices in the creation modern public spaces in urban environments.

As urban populations increase there is becoming a necessity in development to utilise spaces that previously would have been cast aside as wastelands, such spaces are becoming prominent communal spaces in the city, often temporary spaces with functioning arts projects for sometimes often a few months, but such projects in temporary spaces encourage creative use of the city and encourage the scope for creative intervention.

Creative Space can be constructed in any pocket of the city where there is the resource physically and creatively to maintain it. This does not have to be defined to specific architectural projects or even temporary space projects, it can simply be a small intervention within existing space that encourages thought and causes space users to review their surrounding habitat more closely due to added external stimuli ‘at all levels of society people use urban space creatively and often such creativity is bought about through adversity or diversity.’

I am currently making a study based on William H Whyte;

Whyte. W. H. (1980) The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. USA. Project for Public Spaces. Edwards Brothers


Whyte’s observations of Public Space: The command of thought and vision

Through an in depth analysis of Whyte’s The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.  I am able to present a further example as to how observation of urban life can have successful and useful contributions to town planning practices.

Whyte’s investigations as to use of public space by inhabitants form conclusive statements as to the impact of space design on the choreography of daily life. Through extensive observation periods using minimal technological he creates detailed and sustained accounts as to how activity in public space fluctuates, and how observation of such flux can be utilised in urban planning.

‘We started by studying how people use plazas. We mounted time lapse cameras overlooking the plazas and recorded daily patterns.’

Collecting an abundance of documentation the ‘intensification of the natural choreography of place,’   the; ‘tendency towards reciprocal gestures in street conferences, the rhymes of the three phrase good bye’  he habits of daily existence, these records were used to support particular theories of public space use, but can also be used as interesting pieces photographic art inspired by daily life. This has very similar output as to the work of Atget, and could be considered a modern day continuation of his practices.

Whyte’s observations have taken place in many different parts of the city, observing the social functions of particular city design features through simple documentation of observation. Such contributions aid the understanding of the choreography and even scenography of the urban landscape. With meticulous detail in his observations

Crucial to Whyte’s practice was his sense that he needs to inform and educate others as to effective means to establish their own observational practices to continue his legacy of vision. This was done through papers, newspapers, journals, and published materials. This is seminal to an appreciation of the impacts of observation to artists, readers and town planners alike. He commands; ‘watch these flows and you will appreciate how very important these steps can be’ encouraging active appreciation of the street as means of resource.

Whyte’s creation of the theory of ‘Triangulation’  forms an articulate example as to power of street art to divert attention to creative thought for the mass, encouraging interaction through observation from passers by. He explains’ the stimulus can be physical object or sight’.  The effect of such creative activity has measurable and certain effects and can itself form a part of the naturalistic place choreography of the street.

‘A virtue of street acts is their unexpectedness. when people crowd around an entertainer, it happens very quickly, in 40 or 50 seconds, they look much like children who have come upon a treat, some will be smiling in simple delight.’

The majority of Whyte’s investigations occurred in well populated areas of the urban landscape, as his main agenda was to determine how city dwellers used popular public space.

‘We see what we expect to see and have been so conditioned to see crowded spaces in certain city that is often difficult to see empty ones, but we looked, there they were.’

I am keen to relate his theories of the use of well populated space to wasteland and derelict areas of the city, and to study how such wilderness is used by city dwellers, through means of observation and photographic study, I am forming case studies of particular areas and the means in which they are utilised socially and creatively.

My study of Whyte’s practice has been an invaluable contribution to collating aspects of town planning theory into my own practice.

move along to home steads

~ by beatricejarvis on August 12, 2009.

2 Responses to “• ‘The city is a place of encounters, unexpected discoveries and social exchange where citizens are taken on a new journey time after time.’”

  1. Dangerously beautiful images

    • beauty in such dark places is always fascinating to me..
      i wonder what makes them haunt the imagiation
      i still these sites when i close my eyes
      the camera is a useful tool !

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