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.
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.