Category Archives: Diversity

Occupy Wall Street Space as Sacred Space

What makes a public space sacred? In the case of Occupy Wall Street, it is human aspiration—members from almost every strata of society striving to improve the collective status quo—combined with an overt generosity of spirit.

This sacred-ness is quite palpable. Various faith-based groups have heeded its pull. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Native Americans, and Christians alike have been inspired to collectively observe and demonstrate their religious convictions within the political and very public context of Occupy Wall Street.

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“One Wish to Change the World”

This year a French street artist named JR won the TED Prize, given out by the nonprofit conference on technology, entertainment and design. While I have been more than impressed with all of the projects and people featured on TED, I have been blown away by past TED Prize winners who are awarded $100,000 for their “one wish to change the world.”

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Picnic on the Edge in Rembrandtpark

By Michèle Champagne

Just a few metres away from Mercatorplein in Amsterdam (written about in my previous article), lies another favourite public space at the city’s edge: Rembrandtpark. The park flanks the A10 motorway, but is quiet. It also borders social housing and immigrant neighborhoods, but is filled with all sorts of people—dads with babies, couples strolling, as well as old guys flexing muscles in the open air gym. And Rembrandt is quite possibly the best place in the city for having a picnic. In Amsterdam’s city centre, many are familiar with Museumplein and Vondelpark. These parks are stellar but can get quite crowded, both literally and metaphorically.

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Living on the Edge at Mercatorplein

By Michèle Champagne

When your city contains such complex people, ideas, streets, buildings—when it contains so many neighbourhoods, areas and grey areas—why dwell on the city centre as a focus for design discussion? In Amsterdam, there’s a public space called Mercator Square (Mercatorplein in Dutch) at the most Western edge of the city’s ringed highway, in an area originally planned as a “Garden City” suburb. It is here, at Mercator, that there is genuine confusion about whether the square is a success or a failure—not just as a piece of urban design, but as a representation of the people who live and work around it. In Amsterdam, the design of public space is not only an aesthetic or experiential factor, but a socio-cultural one grounded context. Continue reading

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