Designs for a socially distanced city by Mother Design, Accept & Proceed, DesignStudio and more
Where We Stand includes concepts by 15 leading international studios, such as a zoned football pitch, a DIY stencil kit for demarcating outdoor space, and parabolic structures to amplify conversations.
- Jenny Brewer
- 1 July 2020
Fifteen leading design studios around the world have been invited to propose ways to reimagine our public space to safely encourage gathering. The project, called Where We Stand, features work by Accept & Proceed, Character, DesignStudio, Dn&co, Hush, Lovers, Mother Design and Foreign Policy. The work is purely hypothetical but with the intention of calling on governments, developers and landowners to consider inventive and inclusive approaches to outdoor space. The concepts range from ways to demarcate space to structures that might help us connect and chat from a social distance.
Put together by creative director David Michon with agency-client matchmaking firm Ask Us For Ideas (the team behind the Private Views podcast), the results, they say, focus on “a renewed sense of coming together”. “Public spaces are really the heart and soul of the city, and we should do our best to honour that with interesting creative projects that don’t colonise those places, or cover them with caution tape, but help us to reoccupy them safely,” says Michon. “Public space has been a source of anxiety but also essential respite – what this project shows is that we can encourage safe behaviour, and also make spaces beautiful, inviting and engaging.”
Accept & Proceed has created a Keep Your Distance football league, complete with zoned pitches on Hackney Marshes that allow players to maintain distance but still play the game they love. Character has designed a DIY stencil kit in the form of a giant asterisk that displays how groups can stand and chat while still six feet apart. DesignStudio in Sydney has made pods for Bondi Beach that blend into the landscape to provide secluded public space that doesn’t muddy the view, while Dn&co have turned to technology, proposing an AR app that breaks up space to manage crowd density.
Foreign Policy in Singapore has come up with an installation of speaker-receivers that allow people to speak to each other across distances, sited in Singapore Botanic Gardens. Mother Design has redesigned the Victorian bandstand in London’s Arnold Circus as a place for safely distanced gatherings and events.
“Despite being spread across continents there’s a clear unity in the message,” sums up Ask Us For Ideas’ Nicholas Bell. “This is not about keeping us apart, but rather very much bringing us together. Instead of simply defining ‘where' we stand, the responses have almost unanimously touched on ‘how’ we might stand there.”
Other studios involved are Manual, Nonymous, Rice, Sthuthi Ramesh and Samar Maakaroun, Wiedemann Lampe, World’s Greatest Internship alumni Es Youn, Kinzie Burke with Na Rojanusorn and Qiang Wang, and Wkshps x Studio Pandan. You can browse all the projects on Where We Stand’s dedicated website.
GalleryWhere We Stand
Accept & Proceed for Where We Stand
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.