More Space For Us
In Bucharest, public space is dedicated more to cars rather than pedestrians. In the absence of a reaction from the public authorities, this shared space generates many reactions from the community: from the tensions between drivers and pedestrians to various creative ways to conquer a patch of public space. There are more and more initiative groups demanding priority for pedestrians and trying to regain public space, but the lack of a common desire from the community is making things difficult. Also, the lack of quality pedestrian public spaces have generated the reality we are in - the one in which most citizens don’t even know how to define pedestrian public spaces. Thus, the fear of losing parking spaces overcomes the desire to have a leisure space dedicated to pedestrians.
In addition to the obvious problems brought by this year's health crisis, the pandemic and isolation have brought us into a context in which people have come to appreciate much more the few public spaces that they have available in Bucharest. It is an ideal time to offer people various tools through which they start to desire pedestrian spaces, tools through which to regain it in favor of cars. These tools are needed to make a gradual transition and to avoid amplifying existing tensions.
La Firul Ierbii (LFI) is an accessible community center designed for events that improve city life on several levels. Unfortunately, the situation in the recent months has not allowed such activities. In order not to lose touch with the community, there is a need to bring people back, gradually and safely, together and activate the shared public space we have at our disposal - the LFI garden. It is also located at the junction between Splaiul Unirii and Bulevardul Abatorului - it marks / defines the corner of the former cotton industry and is also in a direct connection with the Dâmbovița River through the pedestrian bridge that brings people right in front of the garden.
In response to these two identified needs - creating a tool to regain public public space and maintaining the community center's connection with the community, we’ve used existing resources and improved them through a simple but effective intervention - a bench.
This bench is located in a place where we have noticed that people naturally tend to sit down from time to time. Unfortunately, most of the time people don’t even think that they could sit down because the cars blocked the sidewalk and the pedestrian crossings. The intervention brought a much larger number of people that occupied the space and actually managed to stop drivers from parking their cars on the sidewalk. This was possible by the simple fact that the public pedestrian space is used as a place to rest, socialize, etc.
The intervention is designed to achieve long-term results in the community and was carried out during Street Delivery 2020. Thus, the materials used are weather resistant, bringing added value to areas even after the end of the festival. This activation is one of the first steps that can be taken to stimulate the community to regain its public space and to have a higher demand for generous and high quality public pedestrian spaces.