Comparing Spaces

I could not find my place-making map, so this is my rough sketch!

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On Wednesday, October 9th around 3 o’clock, I sat in Piazza IV Novembre and observed the activity of the shops and the people to see how it related to the concepts of place-making that we have been learning in class so far. Last week we learned that a busy street makes a plaza. After doing our assignment on people-watching in Piazza IV Novembre I now know how true that is. Most of the movement of traffic on the streets was walking towards the piazza asserting it’s place as the city center. The busiest spaces within this area were the streets, however. People gathered on the sides at cafes or stopped at the outdoor seating at restaurants, and traffic even slowed down at the beginning of the piazza near the clothing store where people were window shopping. This supports the place-making theory that busy streets attract people which in turn, creates busy Plaza’s. The next busy section of the piazza where the stairs, which act informal seating that allows people to spend time and gather together in the square. People were either there alone or in groups. Some people were on the phone or others were having a smoke and talking. A few young girls were eating gelato and looking off into the street together. These were the same activities I saw occurring on the stairs opposite to the one on the main cathedral. In one of Jacob’s writings, she said that a place must promote social interaction. Although I did not see strangers interacting there were several groups on the stairs on sitting at restaurants and cafes that were there to socialize and the space provided them with a place to do it. Lastly, there were areas in the piazza with only a small amount of people. Of course, like any major city, we have learned that people stop in the middle of traffic and have a conversation. This is still true for Perugia, there was a large group of people stopped at the mouth of Corso Vanucci flooding into Perugia. Likewise, there were some people who were along sitting on the side of the fountain which is usually reserved for the overflow when the steps or too crowded or as a point for people to meet up and walk together to their next destination. There were also small clusters of two-three people either taking pictures or wandering around in the middle of the square which can be found no matter what time of day it is. These less popular areas are important because it shows that the piazza brings people to space not even just for its shops or its stairs but for the whole atmosphere as well. 

This weekend I went to Foligno and decided to people watch on their main square, Piazza Repubblica to see how their smaller, lesser-known city, compares to Perugia. This was done on Sunday at noon so the city was already less busy, and fewer shops were open. The only places that there were a lot of people were at the major cafe in the square and at the restaurant on the side road that leads to the square. It was as if people were latching to the activity of eating food together while they were there. The next busiest section was the stairs that led to the Catherdral in the square. There, people smoked together, chatted, or sat alone. There were also many people walking through and looking around to see the piazza and move on. This felt completely different from Piazza IV Novembre because there was not a lot going on the square so people did not stay and gather in the square and the people who did stay in the square left after a short time. I believe that this relates to the busy street argument from before. Because there were not a lot of stores open at this time of the day, there was much less to do, which kept people from staying and spending time in the piazza. Overall, the elements of place-making such as having lots of food options and crowded seating to promote the interaction needed for a good place are exhibited in the differences between the center square in Foligno verses Perugia. 

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