The public arena is arguably one of the most important parts of society. Public spaces allow strangers, casual acquaintances, and long time friends to come together and interact. If designed properly, they will encourage good interactions that facilitate discussion and growth. If poorly planned, they can harbor criminal activity and create a hostile environment.
A Return to the Town Square
The town square was an integral city function for centuries throughout the world. It was the central hub of activity, a place for gathering to celebrate, receive information, conduct business, and to simply sit. They have changed over time, losing prominence in recent decades with attitudes changing about society and how we interact. Before technology took off and created an environment that allowed for information at your fingertips, individuals gathered in town squares to share information, discuss politics, and transact business. The classic town square can be re-imagined to function as it used to, to bring people together to interact face to face and create an educated and active society. We can use the town square as an inviting place that allows people to gather to celebrate, conduct business, and engage in discussion.
Anoka City Hall Transformation
Below is a concept image of what the space in front of Anoka's City Hall could become if it was redesigned as an engaging public space. By opening up the facade to interact with the outside, visitors will be more engaged with the activities going on inside. Removing cars from this intersection through the use of seating height bollards creates a safe environment while doubling as additional seating. The addition of patio seating spreading out from the adjacent restaurants draws users into the plaza space and creates the opportunity for spontaneous interactions. Lastly, public officials can better engage their citizens by holding meetings or giving presentations on the plaza. The addition of a display board lets citizens know what meetings are coming up and could double as a display, projecting meetings that are taking place inside.