The square

October 10, 2018

the square - materials


The square is a public space available for everyone, a network of open spaces in populated areas, linked to other infrastructures like for example the transport routes we use in our everyday lives. Often next to the metro, where flows of people meet, where busy roads cross each other, at the center, near buildings of power, where we live. The squares are many and supposed to give us all comfortable areas to share and meet in. Their design and function varies with the different contexts they are placed in, the surroundings often have continuous exchange with the square and characterize it.

The functions could for example be a meeting place, a restroom, sports field, a platform to express opinions, bulletin board, scene, residence, playground, garden, refuge, a place to sleep or a place one like to avoid.

”For the body to move, it must usually have a surface of some kind, and it must have at its disposal whatever technical supports allow for movement to take place. So the pavement and the street are already to be understood as requirements of the body as it exercises its rights of mobility. No one moves without a supportive environment and set of technologies.”  – Judith Butler

A most important part in how the square is being used is the constructed environment and the materials. The materials can for example be stone or concrete that creates a huge open space where big crowds of bodies can gather collectively. It can also be decorative stones and water to look at and hear, walls and benches to sit on, grass, trees and flowers, stairs, ramps, sand, football ground, or light when it’s dark. All the materials invites to various activities.

Another part that interacts with these materials is the norm of how to use them and who should use them, the norm for which role different bodies plays in public spaces. Close to the social norm and as important is to be supported or unsupported and vulnerable, the question of who is safe and has a power position in these environments and who risks ones body by participating.

The squares are an important infrastructure interweaved with other important infrastructures such as our transport systems. By allowing this infrastructure for a moment to collapse by demonstrations and activism, we can draw attention to what we want to change. Blocking people and traffic with our bodies to require attention to our opinions. A collective or lonely act for a change to happen risking our own body, an act for needs of our own or needs of others.


TASK 1. – Isa Draiby


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