The independent life of memes ‘city for people’ and ‘common space’

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O lawkach

Two media information contained in this post are about actions not directly related to the Year of Jan Gehl, but both of them include the phrase ‘a city for people’, used as an evaluating category. These are signs that the idea of ‘a city for people’ has a change of an independent life in people’s imagination.

Finding the right words to describe the culture of space (in short – high quality of spatial planning) is still a big challenge.For example – How to, without antagonizing people, emphasize the difference between a city dominated by cars and a city that is has nice public spaces and is pedestrian friendly? The term used by Jan Gehl ‘a city for people’ seems to be perfectly short and accurate. Although one could say that drivers are also ‘people’, it’s intuitively clear that the difference between someone separated in his vehicle, and a someone directly in the phisical enviroment, receiving completely different experiences and having direct contact with another person. It is not a a coincidence that in everyday language a car is being personated, for example by saying that the cars park illegally, eventhough the drivers do it. In a subjective sense the driver becomes the car to others on the road. Thus, the comparison ‘a city for people’/’a city for cars’ hits the nail on the head, even though it seems to have a innacurate shortcut in it.

‘Common space’ has a similar power as a term, and in the mentioned title it was also supplemented by describing it as a ‘common cause’. The sharing of space means that we have to get along when considering it’s shape. Common Space – this was also a name of a movement (it had two meeting in Łódź and Lublin in 2009) that finally led to the creation of the Congress of Urban Movements. The term did not stick with the urban movements, but the comparison between ‘common space – common cause’ in undoubtedly another meme that captures the challenges of contemporary spatial planing and has a chance of becoming the motto that would shape the imagination of the culture of space.

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