The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Public Space in London?

For the recent Blueprint (August 2009) editors of the magazine teamed up with the Manifesto Club to test the limits of freedom in London. They carried out some experiments in public spaces such as Trafalgar Square, Paternoster Square and "Scoop" - area around Rodgers City Hall. Here are some quotes they were told in "public squares" after having picnic in deck chairs and playing football.

Area: Scoop
Guard: Sorry to interrupt your lovely picnic, but I have been asked by the management to move you along. You know it´s health and safety.
P: Health and Safety?
Guard: Yes, it´s a public walkway, and it gets busy down here with cyclists and skateboards who come past.
P: I thought you weren´t allowed to cycle here...
Guard: No, you´re not but kids come racing through on their bikes - we try to stop them but...

Guard: You can´t play football here guys. It´s all private property. This whole grey area is private property. It´s a stupid rule, if we don´t do it, though, then someone in the offices will call Boris Johnson and he´ll tell us to stop it.

Area: Trafalgar Square
Guard: I´m going to have to move you.
A: What are the rules?
Guard: I´m sorry but you will have to move. You know that St.James´s Park is just around the corner. GLA (Greater London Authority) owns this area.

Guard: Why are you having a picnic in a private space? What you like it here on the hard concrete? Is it a performance?

Area: Paternoster Square
Man passing by: You have found a great spot here. It´s getting like St Mark´s Square!

Guard: I am sorry I am going to have to stop you. There´s no throwing or kicking of anything here. If you hurt someone they´ll get sued. This is private property, not public, so you can´t do anything that might endanger public. There are 50CCTV cameras covering this area.

source: Blueprint article: How much public is public space?

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