Sunday, 22 July 2012

Public space is for people

I recently visited Bremen, with its wonderful 'Das Viertel', a quarter close to the city centre with its very vibrant thriving streets, independent retailers, bars, pubs, restaurants, kindergartens, schools.

Everything is spilling out onto the streets.

My host kindly handed a brochure to me and I just had the time to leaf through it, when I was struck by an idea: I want to analyse all the pictures in this retailers and shopping guide.

The reason?

These photos are meant to be positively representative of 'Das Viertel'. In other words - these photos are 'selling' the street scape, its vibrancy, life and attraction to the readership. So that you are intruiged, inspired and immediately drawn to the place. You wanna go there, live there, be there.

Here it goes.

In the 120-page A5-sized brochure were fifteen photos showing public space (all listed below). In the analysis I have included photos of pure street scape representation. I have excluded photos that show individual buildings, a particular art work, an event or are simply an advert.

On the 'average' photo we have
  • 6.8 people, all (walking, cycling, sitting, etc)
  • 1.0 people on bikes
  • 3.1 bicycles
  • 1.5 cars, parked and moving
  • 0 drivers (visible through windscreen)
The tram is almost omni-present by its tracks and stops.

It's clear. The publisher and designers of the brochure
  • have put people first, with 6.8 people per picture this group receives the highest count, 1.0 of which have a bicycles with them. 
  • values bicycles way over cars (you see twice as many bikes). 
  • sees people on bikes are just that: people. Whereas people in cars are invisible, hidden. 

Not a surprise that cars don't really count in places that put people first! Even in a local shopping area like the 'Das Viertel'. But maybe the stress is on LOCAL.

I wonder whether their was a conscious effort made to send a certain message? Or is there something intrinsically human about this? If anything this seems a subliminal message. Were the publisher/designers aware?

Das Viertel page 4

Das Viertel page 5

Das Viertel page 11

Das Viertel page 13

Das Viertel page 19

Das Viertel page 25

Das Viertel page 29

Das Viertel page 33

Das Viertel page 70

Das Viertel page 81

Das Viertel page 88

Das Viertel page 95

Das Viertel page 108

Das Viertel page 109

Das Viertel page 119

Public space for its people.

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