People gather around things they need. There are some fundamentals: water, food. The company of others. The central fountain in many European villages was the primary gathering place, the heart of the community.
(Central fountain in Saillans, France)
One of the things I was trying to get at in my question to Paul Goldberger is that mobile devices with embedded social features may enable new ways of interacting with the city. What I didn’t say, but what is also obvious, is that they bring with them new needs.
I’m not saying that power and wifi are the new food and water, but they are essentials for modern life. And they attract people. You only have to look in Ottawa’s packed coffeehouses to see that people like to be where there is power, water, coffee coffee coffee and food. And washrooms.
There are some iconic photos of post-Sandy Manhattan with people basically clustered around powerbars, charging their digital connection devices.
- Atlantic Cities – Power Outlets for the People
- The Bridge – New Yorkers Search the City for Power
- USA Today (for the photo, not the article)
- Time (for the photo, not the article)
We know what people want: water, food, social. Now also power and WiFi. Sanitation and coffee are nice too. Comfortable chairs and tables a bonus.
What do we offer people in Ottawa’s parks? Few water fountains. No food service. No power outlets. No powerbars. No WiFi. Rare washrooms. Some benches. Very rarely tables.
We can reclaim our public spaces as modern social spaces. We just have to provide the modern essentials.
Dundonald Park should consider this as part of its redesign.