Elements of a successful “place”

My apologies in advance for what seems like an unorganized post, but coming up on the midterm, I have some thoughts–based off of the readings, discussions and interviews– about what might constitute the elements of a successful place.

First and foremost, I feel like I cannot move forward without giving due credit to Jane Jacobs. Specifically her concept of the necessities and benefits of a participatory process in designing a city are of great importance to our class: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” The more and more I’ve thought about this, the more important it has become. If the local populace is not involved in the project from the start all the way until the end of the implementation of the project, the needs and wants of the local populace will not be respected and utilized in a way that creates a lively and sustainable space.

Secondly, our conversation with David last week got me thinking (I know, dangerous) about how to get people to come to a place, whether it be a community garden or a terrace. During our conversation he mentioned why they decided to not put the garden closer to the terrace–the elderly people who lived above the proposed area wanted to relax, not work. In other words, there was no need for the garden in that area, or in David’s words (more or less): “A place such as a community garden cannot be successful if only designed well– it must be needed where it is put.” This idea–a place cannot be designed, it must be needed–got me thinking about what needs the terrace is currently meeting in the community. From my two observations, it is meeting the needs of those people who want a quiet place to relax and watch the city in relative peace, and maybe grab a bite to eat while doing it. It seems like much of our conversation has centered on how to increase traffic on the terrace–to get it being used more. In other words, we are trying to increase the necessity of the terrace to the local people.

Finally, on two separate occasions we have been exposed to the idea of commitment within a community: the first with David, and how to retain commitment in a community garden; the second, with Mario, who spoke of the damaging impacts of individualism. These conversations were focused mostly around management, and how to best manage the terrace. While the city definitely has their role to play, the individual has just as large a role (in my opinion). Increased individual commitment to the maintenance of the terrace, will, I think, result in a more sustainable place, as the people of the community work together to maintain and enjoy the terrace, a positive feedback loop of sorts. I think for the Salotto con vista project to be successful, part of what we,need to do is keep these things in mind: the participatory process, the creation of (or perhaps merely retention of) necessity, and a way in which to encourage and maintain individuals’ commitment to something greater than themselves.


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