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When we think about the way our cities grow, we think about how real estate, about politics, about economic growth, but not necessarily about the people- who they are and how they might interact not just with the built environment, but also how it drives interaction between people. So we set out to ask this question about how much the built environment of the city affects the social realm. In a developer driven city, can we carve out spaces in the public realm for the people who live there? How much does the city affect the social realm?

Have you ever thought if your city making you single?

LIC has been called the fastest growing neighbourhood in the country. Residential units in LIC have multiplied at a rapid rate since 2010. 109 new buildings will been built from 2010-20, projecting a population of about a hundred thousand people. What’s common among these new buildings, apart from the waterfront view and amenities is that they’re being rented out by millennials- 64% of the current population in LIC comprises people between the ages of 20-34.

65% of the population has either never been married, separated or widowed. These millennials, people our age, spend most of their day immersed in the virtual worlds, losing touch with the real world around them. One of the reasons that that might be happening is because the physical public realm in the city offers nothing to them- and while the private residential sector keeps growing, the city is left with inadequate, hostile public spaces.


So we set out to find if we can improve the public spaces in the city to trigger interaction between singles. The first step to doing that was to understanding their lifestyles in relation with the city- what they do and where they go as a part of their weekday and weekend routine and identify spatial and programmatic gaps where we can intervene.

These spatial gaps are either the underused spaces, parking or vacant lots, sidewalks, or spaces with temporary programs.

For example, on a regular weekday, they wake up, take their dogs out for a walk, take the subway to their work place, since most them work in Manhattan. So we looked at the major subways stations around the new developments, and potential spots within walking distances of the stations.

On a weekend, we found out that they visit bars, restaurants or cinemas, art galleries or even fitness centres. So we looked at underused spaces within walking distances around those spots.

And then we marked out the potential sites based on their proximity to the spaces that they visit everyday. Some of these are around subway stations, others are around frequently visited social nodes.

Once we had identified the potential sites, we tried to build categories of the spatial qualities of these sites- so we divided them in four basic categories based on the level of intimacies we wanted to achieve- The first one is a chance encounter- where one spends a short amount of time and in a densely populated space, and requires strong conversation starters. The second one is the first date, which is where two people might decide to go out around a bar or restaurant with some visibility with more subtle conversation starters. The third one is a more intimate date, when the two people have grown closer to each other and might seek more privacy than the first two stages- this is a space that varies in scale from- a goodbye spot where they spend a minute to a sunset spot where could spend maybe an hour. The fourth one is to cater to the times when one has decided to introduce their dates to theor friends- so it becomes a space for small groups, with more playful activities.

To aid these moments, as we have called them, we broke down the spatial requirements into components of a public space- datum or groundline, planting, benches, enclosures seating, ...

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Some of these objects have been designed in a way to almost insist that two strangers interact- for example, a bench that glows when two people sit on it. In this way, the city not only triggers interaction, but becomes an active participant in the social realm of the city.