sitymeter

“The street is the river of the city, the people come to these places not to escape, but to partake in it.” William H. Whyte

The sitymeter draws attention to the success of the Queen Louises bridge in Nørrebro, Copenhagen as a great public space. It celebrates the wonderful synergy that happens between the structure of the city, the history and the people. Its goal is to celebrate and encourage sitting, relaxing, taking a break and hanging out. We call the attention to a success, rather than a failure.

We looked at the bike counter on Nørrbrogade as a beacon for the city of Copenhagen. A culture and city built around cycling. We saw the counter as a reflection of ones presence in the city on the bike-. It says: You are part of the culture, you are part of this city as you ride your bike. The Dronning Louise Bro is a host for the culture and community of Copenhagen – it is a great public space. Our mission was to call attention to that.

Throughout this course we learned about bad design for public city spaces. We talked about the tension between architecture and people; when a space is made for people to act in versus when people construct the space they need and want. We saw the Nørrebro bridge as an amazing combination of both, and a hugely successful public space. People of all elks, at all times of day come to the bridge to meet, to talk, to read, to eat, to relax. Each lane in on the bridge is comfortably wide – a family with a large bicycle pushing the kids or groceries or whatever, can clearly pass a group of people. We observed people on the bridge observing us, and each other, it is a rich place for exchange between the people of Copenhagen.

We were also interested in the reflection of ourselves that happens through the cities CCTV cameras – because our cities are filled with cameras, there is a version of me, a record of me moving throughout the city. That record is an interesting reflection of myself that i would like to see. We thought of creating a “me stream” where the cities cameras would collectively create a video of me throughout the day. We thought about how we could turn surveillance into a positive thing for the public. Currently it is a parasitic relationship between the cities population and the CCTV cameras, they take and record but don’t give back. There is a fruitful new form of self reflection through this record, lets celebrate it.

We were inspired by William H. Whyte, “Social Life of Small urban places” – about why the Seagrams plaza in NYC works so well as a public space. The answers are rather simple; lots of people, a place to sit, and food. The most successful urban places, he points out, are the opposite of the self contained mega-structure. The bridge and the atmosphere that grows upon it is specific to Copenhagen, it could not be picked up and transplanted to another city, and perhaps not even to its neighboring bridges. We were pleased and delighted to take work on a project that celebrates.

 

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