With so many philosophies and theories on city planning, it can be hard to determine the best method for creating a great city. Anirban Adhya analyzed the work of Jane Jacobs in Jane Jacobs and the Theory of Placemaking in Debates of Sustainable Urbanism. Adhya notes a city is “a system of organized complexity” with the capability of providing something for everyone, which can only be achieved if a place is created by everyone. Through information from locals and city planners alike a place can be created that contains both function and form. The benefits of involving the locals within an area is that they are the people who, in the end, will be using the space. The professionals on the other hand have the large view of how to incorporate the local’s wishes into the designated space. By working together these two groups of stakeholders can create better usable public spaces.
When city planners look to improve or create a new public area they must first learn about the needs/wants of the community. One way to determine these needs is through diligent physical observation. Though many processes achieve this goal, one common method is to simply watch an area for a certain amount of time while recording the activities that take place there.
With this in mind my classmate and I were tasked with observing various spaces within Piazza IV Novembre in Perugia’s city center. By observing places such as the steps, alleyways and fences, we learned more about the purpose and function of the main square of Perugia. I was fascinated to learn about the variety of reasons why people entered and lingered in the piazza. For example, meeting with friends, eating food from the nearby cafes, and lounging around on the fringe were popular options among the locals. By keeping an open line of communication between locals and city planners, purposefully places can be created.
Pictured: Observation of daily activities in Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia. Taken 26.09.2017