Where’s the Square?

Anyone interested in the idea of democracy should check out the Vancouver Public Space Network’s website. When it comes to creating dialogue as a practice for community self-awareness this group is doing great things.

The first VPSN event that I attended was a tiny little dance party in a remote area of a public park. It was repeatedly hassled by Vancouver Parks Police, and that was good enough for me. Any group (not hurting anyone) that gets hassled by any establishment type is probably on to something good.

This past Tuesday the VPSN launched its Where’s the Square Design Competition, with a very well attended forum at the Vancouver Public Library. The panelists Lance Berelowitz, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Bing Thom are all highly regarded experts and practitioners in public space design. They presented the audience with many examples of Public Squares from around the world, and gave what turned out to be a free education in the design and use of public space.

Lance Berelowitz, the author of Dream City gave the most provocative talk. He questioned the need for a central plaza in Vancouver, pointing out that the city is surrounded by public space all looking away from the city toward the ocean and mountains. This space on the edge of the city serves many functions and gives a character to Vancouver that isn’t found in Old World Cities. He did, however, suggest the current Art Gallery’s back entrance as a possible space for a re- and well designed public space.

Let them know what you think.

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