Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three Levels of Public in Urban Design

Text and sketchcard by architect Ron Stanford addressing public-use design considerations for greenhouse and urban landscape at Hayes Valley Farm in the midst of a hip and active neighborhood in San Francisco:

"The First 'Public' is made up of the end users, those who actually engage a project as first person participants.  In our case, these are the people who actually  come to the farm and volunteer, take advantage of the many activities, events, the food distribution, those who physically engage the mission, on site.

"Second, there are many who 'see' the farm, drive past it, live next to it, walk past it, but who do not ever come in.  For this sector, this Second 'Public', and it is a large number, much larger than the actual number of first person participants, the farm is a regular visual event. It may be the view outside their front door, the view they hit at minute 7 in the drive or ride home.  It serves as a marker, a neighborhood signifier, a process signifier, occupying psycho-cultural place, possibility (both positive & negative), and identity, in individual and collective-collected constructions of the city.

"A Third 'Public' is comprised of those who may never see the project in person, but who will see it, experience it, process it,  via media.  They may read about it, see it published, photographed, talked about, blogged about.  For even a relatively successful project in this 'media' propagated sense, this third 'public' is almost always larger than the first, and can easily exceed the second, and an additional set of zeitgeist constructions attends their processing of that media presence."