Social distancing around the world has created new spatial relationships, both physical and psychological, in parks, shopping centres, streets and sports fields. In response to this new way of living, agency matchmaker ASK US FOR IDEAS has partnered with creative director David Michon to launch Where We Stand. The project sees 15 design studios propose a visual system for their favourite public space to create a welcoming and safe environment for people to gather.
“What this project shows is that we can encourage safe behaviour, and also make spaces beautiful, inviting and engaging. There’s not only one single cut-and-paste version of what public space can be during this time – we can enjoy the diversity, we can still explore,” explains Michon.
The results focus on a renewed sense of togetherness, ranging from street basketball courts in Ho Chi Minh City and a ‘Keep Your Distance’ football league in London to an installation of speakers in Singapore’s botanic gardens. The project is a call to action for governments, property developers and private landowners to make our public spaces enjoyable, beautiful and most importantly, safe.
Accept & Proceed
A huge loss during the global lockdowns has been the lack of community sport, at both competitive and social levels. Inspired by Hackney Marshes football pitches, London-based agency Accept & Proceed’s ‘Keep Your Distance’ football league utilises a zoned pitch, promoting a precise ‘Tiki-Taka’ style of play.
Detroit has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, particularly within its Black communities. With limited walking access to public parks, the community’s ability to safely social distance is restricted. New York and San Francisco-based agency Character’s proposal features an Asterisk Kit, a stencil with six points that measures six feet in length. It gives citizens the power to transform the streets, grass, and pavements within their neighbourhoods.
The Sydney office of DesignStudio developed a solution for Bondi, one of Australia’s most iconic beaches. Instead of restricting the use of beaches, they focused on making them more intimate and personal, proposing a series of individual structures inspired by the surrounding coastal environment.
London-based consultancy dn&co’s Augmented Assembly app produces ever-shifting patterns, driven by the Voronoi diagram, that can be projected onto the ground through AR so people can find a safe spot. Every space is different, allowing for organic expansion rather than a rigid, often less-efficient grid structure.
Foreign Policy’s proposal reframes social distancing as ‘physical distancing’, highlighting how people can remain together while being apart. A series of hollow-tube speakers installed throughout Singapore’s Botanic Gardens allow people to interact and connect purely through sound.
Brooklyn-based agency HUSH proposed a field of sculptural, functional objects that act as gravitational centre points for social distancing. The grid of objects is positioned between two large, typographic ‘ideas’ that are meaningful to the local public.
Creative supergroup Lovers’ proposition celebrates the heroic figures who tore down Bristol’s statue of Edward Colston, a significant slave trader in the 17th century. By casting the collective energy of the Bristolians in bronze, the design aims to trigger a worldwide review of similar public statues.
The Harry Bridges Plaza in San Francisco is less of a destination and more of a transitional area for foot traffic between downtown and the iconic Ferry Building. Local studio Manual reimagined this space as a temporary activation that safely brings people and local food businesses together. Market Mounds acts as an outdoor ‘parklet’, allowing visitors to picnic with food either purchased at the Ferry Building or from a series of nearby food trucks.
Music has always brought people together, which is why Mother chose to reimagine the bandstand in London’s Arnold Circus. In Victorian Britain, over 1,500 bandstands were instated to reinvigorate public spaces. Inspired by the architectural context, the proposal suggests areas that individuals or small groups can come together and listen to localised speakers.
The United States is one of history’s most remarkable works in progress, built on an amendable constitution evolving through new ideas. The internet was meant to accelerate debate about development, yet it has played a part in dividing the nation. NONYMOUS’ Unfinished Thought proposal utilises the symbolic ellipsis to turn the birthplace of American democracy, the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, into an open, vibrant and safe forum for debate again.
More often than not, the streets of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City are brimming with life and character, fulfilling several functions. Rice Creative’s idea revolves around some minor but noticeable interventions: street basketball, movable furniture, grid-access and expanded pavements.
Equilibrium is an installation located in Paris’ Centre Pompidou square, proposed by London-based brand consultancy Wiedemann Lampe. Consisting of four-sided totems covered with FlipDots, Equilibrium monitors the number of people in each quadrant of the plaza. As people walk in, the dots turn white, raising the bar. Once the space is overfilled, people are encouraged to move along, working together to create awareness to redistribute for better balance and the greater good.
World’s Greatest Internship
World’s Greatest Internship alumni Es Youn, Kinzie Burke, Na Rojanusorn and Qiang Wang combined to encourage dialogue in the age of COVID-19. They selected Domino Park in Brooklyn to demonstrate how we can leverage acoustic architecture with thoughtful mark-marking techniques to revolutionise how we spark dialogue with public spaces.
Wkshps x Studio Pandan
Returning to social ‘norms’ without significant changes increases the risk of infection for those most vulnerable. At the same time, a move away from face-to-face interaction limits the opportunity for people to encounter others outside of their existing communities. Wkshps teamed up with Studio Pandan to address these interlinked concerns with a playful, participatory approach. Their ‘Where We Stand Apart (Together)’ proposal for Berlin’s Tempelhofer Feld encourages people to wear masks by attempting to make them feel fresh and exciting.