Monday, 21 January 2008

Privacy in a public space

"There is no expectation of privacy in a public space" (

Since our last discussions and after reading Marianne and Amy's ideas I have been looking around on the internet for inspiration.  The last time we met I mentioned I was interested in the differences between public and private spaces.  I decided to look on wikipedia for a definition of a public space, which brought up some interesting points.

What constitutes a public space?
"Most streets, including the pavement are considered public space, as are town squares or parks.  Government buildings, such as public libraries and many other similar buildings are also public space." (

The sentence "There is no expectation of privacy in a public space" also appeared within this explanation of public space.  It seemed to particularly stand out and made me wonder how could we intervene and disrupt norms by bringing a sense of privacy to a particular public space.  Considering the question: What makes a place feel private?  Is it having your own belongings around you, being closed off from public view or somewhere that restricts who may enter?  Any of these elements could be taken to one of the public spaces noted above, therefore bringing privacy into a public space.  This could be an interesting activity to undertake.

Another statement I came across whilst searching on wikipedia was: "Measures are taken to make the public space less attractive to homeless people and young people, including the removal or design of benches to restrict their use for sleeping and resting, restricting access to certain times, locking indoor/enclosed areas.  Police forces are sometimes involved in moving 'unwanted' members of the public from public spaces.  Also, by not being provided suitable access, disabled people are excluded from some spaces." (

Maybe an interesting activity could be to make a public space such as a town square or a park more inviting to homeless, young or disabled people by creating a comfortable resting place (this could tie in with Marianne's idea) or an area for socializing or even transforming a popular area of London which is difficult for disabled people to visit into an easily accessible site.  For example, when visiting Trafalgar Square many people climb up to the base of Nelson's Column to gain a better view of the square or to have a rest, as far as I am aware there is no disabled access here.  There are ramps into Trafalgar Square from the side of the National Gallery however this is where the disabled access stops.  Placing a ramp at the foot of Nelson's Column so that disabled people would also be able to view the site in the same way as others would open this public place up to more people, and give us an interesting day out.

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