Terrace Observations

The last week of class seemed to center around more first person experiences in placemaking. The reading by Wm. Whyte gave a firsthand account on the plaza projects around new York city in the early 1980’s and highlighted some of the more specific influences that create successful public spaces. Similarly, Talia and I had our first observation of the Borgo Bello terrace on Wednesday, which was my first time having a prolonged experience there.

My main take away from the reading this week was much of Jane Jacobs work can be seen in the readings from Whyte. Whyte took a more in-depth approach in his argument than Jacobs, and focused primarily on the aspects of plazas, however the assertions still allign. Some of his main points were that plazas needed to have easy access to the street, movable seating that was inviting and usable for relaxation, and that the presence of snack bars or cafes had tremendous effects on the success of new plazas. For example, Whyte writes, “…if the sight of the line of people for the snackbar gets long, the sight will induce passerby to join” (Whyte, 54). This falls in accordance with Jacobs notion that successful public places need to be easily accessible and have a clear distinction between public and private spaces, as well as explicitly aligns itself with the notion that the sight of people attracts other people.

Watching the terrace with Talia was also a good way to extrapolate Jacobs argument into our own placemaking setting. This being the first time I actually sat and watched the terrace, I noticed several things; one or two people actually passed through the terrace itself, and only a handful of people beyond that even looked down into the space. This was at 6pm on a beautiful day after hearing countless times that it would be one of the better times for watching the terrace. Many of the cars on the parking lot blocked the lower section, making the place entirely secluded. I think this is one of the terraces biggest weaknesses, but could also be one of its biggest strengths too. As Jane Jacobs described, the sight of other people attracts more people, which I have come to realize is the spaces biggest problem. People just don’t know about it because they don’t see other people using it. In proximate space to the terrace this is very true, but I think in general the terrace has very little exposure and is widely unknown in the still small community of Perugia.  Without reason to pass by, many people wouldn’t know it’s there. At the same time, the terrace is oddly charming with its sense of exclusivity and separation from the city itself. Those who do use it seem to have a more surreal experience than in other more touristy parts of the town. I think more advertisement, or at least enticement, to venture off the main street of Borgo Bello would have significant effects on the terrace.

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