Connecting the archipelago: in search of new public domain

Connecting the archipelago: in search of new public domain – Reviews

Colin Ward


By Maarten Hajer and Arnold Reijndorp. Rotterdam: NAi, 2001. [euro]27

We all know expensively refurbished public spaces which fail to attract the public, as well as overcrowded marginal corners where crowds always congregate. Are there rules or guidelines which can bring together urban supply and demand? Can we plan for the happy casual uses which bring strangers together in a common use of their environment?

These are the kind of questions for which this book offers possible answers, with the aid of about 70 full-page coloured pictures of busy public spaces. The authors argue that ‘Society has become an archipelago of enclaves, and people from different backgrounds have developed ever more spacial strategies to meet the people that want to meet, and to avoid the people they want to avoid.’ And they urge that both layout and management of public spaces is dominated ‘by an implicit cultural policy aimed at creating manageable, zero-friction environments’.


Their alternative is the provision of ‘space for marginality’. Noting how ‘whole factories run on the manufacture of benches that have been designed so that you cannot lie down on them’, they urge a little public space reserved for sellers of the Big Issue!

COPYRIGHT 2003 EMAP Architecture

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group