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Sustainable Rotterdam

The city is re-inventing itself

Public space and personallity

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A visit to someone's hometown is always a healing experience. I was back to Barcelona for few days of holiday and during a relax evening around Barceloneta and Port Olimpic, two observations called my attention.

Barcelona is a great city where one has the feeling that everything is possible, citizens and visitors exploite the public domain creatively in all sorts of social expressions (local celebrations like Fiestas de Gracia, urban art, skater demonstrations, or simply gathering with friends around some drinks at the street). Since the line between making a "proper use" of public space and abusing and making it unworkable is very fragile, the municipality released an ordinance calling for a civic use of public space. The overall strategy includes a communication campaign targeting users of public space very creatively, like the one pictured above. The beach "talks" to citizens asking them to use it responsible. The comic-alike balloons read "I'm a beach, not a huge ashtray, ok?" and "Walking in the sand is healthy. Get fit; walk over to the trash cans" (click image to enlarge). With this initiative, public areas gain some sort of personality which may translate in more respectful use.

A similar initiative was observed in Sitges (no pictures available). From a range of messages dealing with different "un-civic" attitudes (misuse of waste system, dog poo, or graffiti at the white walls which characterizes the village), called out attention the one about walking around with bare chest and trunks. Picturing a guy in such fashion, the sentence read "This is not Sitges fashion". Funny.

posted by Oriol P., 2:05 PM


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