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What do you expect of your urban Public Spaces?


In a public space not familiar to you, (say, you are visiting a town or city for the first time, in an open area enclosed by tall buildings) many visitors would use their a wide-screen scan of the area in front of them to note if the area appears safe, free from gatherings of standing youngsters. It should pleasing on your eye, welcoming in your nose and gentle on your ears.


Well-kept Public Spaces should be litter-free and the walking surface reasonably unmarked, except for normal wear and tear. Changes in walking levels may be quickly noticed and should warn the visitor of the dangers of steps, both up and down. Can people walk through this area in a straight line or is the space designed to resemble a mini-maze, with street furniture positioned to disrupt a fast moving walker or are there Lowry-like crowds of people, heads down, moving across the space?


A scan of less than a minute should identify the buildings, any shop entrances, flowers, shrubs and the movement of people. Any colourful canopies and parasols are easily recognised and a visitor would expect tables and chairs beneath these taller features. Retail signs of national shops that cling to the ground floor walls strangely provide a more familiar environment - a reassurance that walking into branded interiors will be broadly the same, no matter where they are on the map.


"Oh, look! There's (a TV advertised retailer)."


But what’s missing from  this scenario?


What else do you expect of your public spaces? Comments to the Seat-Watch Forum.


This writer believes that seating is a low priority on a list of things to see and do for any visitor. Yet well-designed seats that are clean, attractive and comfortable may enhance an open space and encourage people to stop walking for a while.


Councils aim to reduce litter - and this is understandable - but, some seats have litter bins so close that the smell of discarded food may spoil a relaxing rest. Are people so lazy that a bin a few paces away may be too far?


Look out for Seat-Watch photographs with a litter bin close enough to lean against. How many are there? No prizes, but leave your guess on the Seat-Watch Forum.