6_Social Space Taxonomy and Analysis

In trying to classify and numerate the different types of social spaces/programs that exist (places where human beings engage in seeing, meeting, talking, and sharing of other experiences) one comes across 3 general categories under which they can all be placed. The first is composed of spaces or programs where social interactions happen completely by accident – one is using the space for practical reasons or out of basic need and for some reason or another one comes into contact with other human beings. The second category is composed of spaces that one goes to and uses for some reason other than basic need. The function of the space attracts so many people that even if one is not looking for social contact if it were to happen one would not be at all caught by surprise. In fact, some people use these spaces with the main goal of socializing, and the real reason the space attracts people being only partially utilized if not completely disregarded. The third and final category are of spaces that are purely social – spaces that people go to and use with the main purpose of socially interacting with other human beings.

The following is a brief taxonomy of the most relevant of these spaces as they have occurred throughout history, which is followed by an analysis and extraction of the main characteristics that have allowed them to work. For this analysis it will be important to bear in mind that, if one already has a social group formed, a great part of these spaces work perfectly as spaces where this group could interact, however, for the purposes of this analysis, the problem comes in when somebody is trying to meet new people, and interact with people who otherwise would be complete strangers. The following research is analyzing which spaces make it easier for that to happen; and which ones don’t, but that somehow have certain traits that can still help and therefore should also be taken in consideration and learned from.

I will not point to all the characteristics a space has that makes it viable, but will instead, for each group, mention only one or two, with the others brought out in other examples. Thus a characteristic that I mention takes place in space Y, might very well also happen in a space X discussed before & vice-versa.


By need:

Job related: work, school, conferences, professional organizations, seminars, bus/subway/train/plane and their respective waiting areas or terminals. Errands: laundry parlors, post office, parents sitting around playground, streets, doctor waiting rooms, pharmacy, dog parks. Food based: hunting grounds, markets, restaurants, street vendors, supermarkets, food courts, cafeterias.


For its own inherent value:

Spectating events: amphitheaters, colloseums, cinemas, performance spaces, sports stadiums/events. Physical activities: pick-up football/hockey/basketball games, playgrounds for kids, sports courts, dance class, yoga room, gym, ice skating rink, pools, golf course, beach, hiking grounds, boats. Retail: street vendors, shopping malls, stores. Cultural/educational: heritage/country organizations, cultural groups, book clubs, bookshops, galleries, art fairs, religious organizations and churches, zoo, political rallies/manifestations, political organizations, playgrounds, mardi gras and other festivals, cooking/photography/etc type of classes, museums, monuments, memorials. Fun/Entertainment: pier , lawn/park , square/plaza, beach, pedestrian street, spas, amusement/theme/attraction parks, shopping malls, stores, casinos, festivals, game rooms, bowling alley, pool hall, cafes, bakeries, cybercafés.


To socialize:

To spend one’s free time and or socialize: cave, tents, residential area, hotel lobbies, duty-free shops, village center, agora, forum, bars, clubs, tailgate parties, private parties, fraternities/sororities, speed-dating clubs.


Caves and Hunting Grounds – The analysis will begin with the most early of social spaces, the caves and open places where man hunted millennia ago. Some of the strongest imprints on the social characteristics of human beings can be traced back to these two types of spaces, namely how some believe the female is a much more socially savvy creature than the male. The early phase of mankind is described as the hunter-gatherer phase, and in it the male of our specie is seen as having undertaken most of the task of hunting and gathering. Because of the dangers man faced in the open grounds from predators, socialization and the idea that is connected to it of relaxation and time wasting did not occur much, social contact in these settings were more about exchanging information with very clear purposes in mind (e.g. how to corner and kill the prey), they could not let their guard down and be caught by surprise by a rival tribe, or other predators themselves on the hunt. When the male did come back to the place where they were settled, the caves, they could finally let their guard down and socialize – discuss who would get the food, how much of it, court the opposing sex, manage the children, etc. Here, however, the female reigned supreme – given that while the male were on the wild open spaces hunting, the females were in the enclosed sheltered spaces taking care of the young and socializing, a place where that could happen because of the protection afforded by the enclosed spatial characteristic of the cave (an inside room with very limited access to the outside and where one had visual contact to everything that was inside and one could come to interact with).

Back at that stage, facing a stranger, that is, a fellow human being from another tribe, was something that brought great anxiety, since it brought great danger – fighting for control of the food and territory, to protect from harming the young and even just for one’s life. The hunter-gatherer phase is by far the longest phase in mankind and is believed to have lasted for more than two million years. It is therefore easy to understand if fear of strangers were to have somehow become ingrained in our genetic code (e.g. children crying to alert the parents when separated from them, or when left in the company of strangers); as well as why the slight paranoia described in Meaningful New Architecture of living in the metropolis is more than just psychological weakness, but might actually be genetically programmed given that they are all strangers and back in our history represented great danger. Understanding the hunter-gatherer phase could also help explain how spaces that are smaller in scale and closed off, as opposed to the open hunting grounds where predators abound, makes one feel more relaxed and open to socialization. This analysis, however, has a very interesting corollary, and that is that although one can be predisposed to relaxing and socializing in a closed space, while anxious in an open space, if one were to face a stranger in a closed space (he had somehow managed to pass our defenses) anxiety and fear would be maximum given that it would be the same as in the open field, in addition to the fact that one is completely cornered in and without a possibility of escaping. Thus the best place to meet strangers might just be in public spaces. The second corollary of this explains a phenomenon that occurs even in today’s society: and that is the fact that when in the open field, where one expects to find only strangers, one happens to meet an acquaintance, that is, someone one barely interacts with under normal circumstances, this acquaintance is greeted as if a really close friend, while a close friend can be greeted with loud cheers and jubilation. An example of this happened to me when I met an acquaintance last summer in Switzerland, a place where because I was completely surround by strangers and barely knew the language, I greeted her like a close friend, when normally when I would see her back in College a ‘hi’ would most of the time be an over gesture. The same summer I met an old and really good friend from college and the joy in both of our faces when we met surpassed any encounter we had had in the past.

These aforementioned pair of observations , although seemingly irreconcilable, can work to create better social spaces: from the first analysis one can take the fact that closed spaces makes one more relaxed, while its private nature brings anxiety because if one were to be alone with a stranger one couldn’t escape. While open spaces should be avoided because they bring anxiety. But its public aspect promoted since it can bring friends together. Thus in an enclosed public space safety would not be an issue since one wouldn’t be alone with a stranger, but the relaxation associated with it still achieved.


The Village center, the Agora – Beginning with the cave (which one could argue was the first real social space) and then on forward from around 12,000 years ago when agricultural societies first began to be established, socialization has still mostly occurred in places with similar characteristics: of the main characteristics being the existence of free-time, that is, time one has nothing better to do with other than engage in ‘purposeless’ interactions with other human beings. This is important because (besides for reproductive purposes) one must understand that socialization will take place but only in a secondary position compared to fulfilling other basic needs. From an analysis of the Agora in ancient Greece, which one could say was the first space designed with a purely social function, one can learn that free-time has to become valued in order for socialization to take a more prominent role, other than purely for filling in one’s time. That must be so because otherwise human beings will jump on the opportunity to do something else with their free-time if an opportunity is to present itself. In ancient Greece free-time was seen as a valued commodity, and they used the time as a period where they could engage in discussion with others, exchange and develop ideas, promote self-growth, etc; thus the emergence of the Agora – a place where this could occur, and from where some of the greatest thinkers in our history emerged (e.g. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle).

A cultural shift must happen in our society; a shift where the use of free-time for socialization will be valued and promoted, instead of the culture we have now where free-time is something that brings dread and anxiety given that in today’s society it represents boredom – something we have been educated to avoided at all cost – and what is promoted in its place is work, that is, something that reinforces the status-quo of the consumer Capitalist culture, instead of promoting something out of which, for example, better socio-economic-political systems could emerge. As explained before in Meaningful New Architecture Capitalism today has brought about a society of distraction to obfuscate the absolute control and grip it has over today’s society, and through propaganda it has created a belief that “life is short, and must be enjoyed to the fullest,” thus the culture of entertainment that has sprung from it and that dominates our world today. Yet, our ability to think, develop new ideas, and organize in groups so they can be implemented has been what has allowed humanity to develop up to this point. That must be brought forward once more if humanity is to escape the partial intellectual and cultural stasis it is in presently (with the explosion of popular culture) where the developments that are mostly promoted (monetarily at least) are developments that maintain the status-quo.


Residential neighborhoods, the Square/Plaza, Work places, Schools – A fundamental trait for socialization, that can easily be overlooked, is the idea of proximity. Today’s big metropolises make it very hard for socialization to take place. With one’s friends spread all across the city, making time to socialize is a big commitment, since purely in circulation time (to get back and forth from the place of socialization) 1-2 hours could easily be spent; and if one couples to that the time to get to and from work from home, another 1-2 hours could again easily be spent. And in addition one spends so much time working that there is little time left over for meeting and interacting with people, given that the little time one has, one would rather spend relaxing from a tiring day at work. Thus, big distances is another way today’s system works to maintain itself. Proximity is one of the crucial elements of, for example, most residential neighborhoods that still have a strong sense of community. Squares and Plazas that used to be popular in the past as places where people in them interacted with each other were so because the people who occupied them lived close to the spaces, and thus knew the people that would frequent them, and therefore the Square was a successful social place. Today such spaces are mostly an attempt to manipulate the public through its presence as symbol, but with none of the power of it as a public realm, given that people passing by a square are probably complete strangers to each other, and therefore will not engage in any sort of meaningful social interaction with one another.

The proximity factor works in very close collaboration with another crucial element in creating powerful and active social spaces, and that is the idea of repeated encounters. From the analysis of Game Theory’s Prisoner’s dilemma, expanded upon in Meaningful New Architecture, one can understand why strangers tend to avoid social contact given that they don’t know the other person and therefore can’t trust them since the other person could very well be a criminal as well as a good citizen. In present time, if one were to go 10 straight days at 4pm to some random square in New York for example, one would probably see completely different people all of those times. The idea of repeated encounters is the key to successful squares, as well as the social interaction in work places, schools, and neighborhoods. Since one comes across the person many times, one has a good reason to trust them given that they probably wouldn’t want to handicap their position in the work-place for an opportunity to take advantage of you, given that then nobody else in the work-place would trust them, and they would eventually be excluded from the group. Thus structuring spaces, and infilling them with specific program that would make people frequent the area more frequently and for different reasons and in different times, is a key element in making any social space viable, because it is probably the most important way in which a sense of community and trust can be created.


Stadiums, Religious organizations, Cultural/Heritage groups – In today’s society, given that millions of years of social interaction has probably ingrained it as need to be fulfilled by our DNA (at some level at least for reproductive purposes), despite all that I have identified in Meaningful New Architecture our present consumer-culture has working against it, socialization has found many ways to still bear its head. One of the most interesting cases being the resurgence of religious organizations in a time one would expect the complete opposite to be taking place. I argue that these spaces have re-emerged with such high levels of followers because of the secondary role they provide as social spaces. One can be attracted to them because of its main religious purpose, but in the end I think they have maintained and grown its numbers because of the ancillary social functions it facilitates. The Jewish religion here in the US being a great example of that – it provides a reason and mean for people that otherwise wouldn’t meet each other in today’s big metropolises of doing so successfully.

Another crucial factor that is extremely intertwined with this need for focused socialization spaces, that is, spaces where people with a common interest can meet, is the role identity building has in facilitating socialization. To explain this point, I will jump to the example of stadiums and today’s sports events, although the example of religion, and Jewish religion to be specific, should remain in one’s head to help reinforce the point and see how it connects back to the previous point.

One of the places where one can witness some of the most meaningful socialization taking place today is at Stadiums and other sporting events. Like religious organizations, and most other successful social spaces today, Big Sporting events attract people to an activity that isn’t necessarily social, however, by the mere fact that these activities attract other people, one of the main functions of such spaces can become, retroactively, a social one. When there is a match, there are at least two teams playing, and each team, in many parts of the western world, represents big communities of people that consider the team one of the most important aspects of their lives. When in a Stadium, people that never met each other before can behave like best of friends because they belong to the same team, the same community – and they can go along hugged to each other singing the team’s songs and anthems completely disregarding the fact that the other person is a stranger. The community that they belong to overshadows the fact that they are strangers, and trust becomes almost a non issue. In the Tail-gate parties that are a precursor to them people that root for the same team share each other’s food, drinks, socialize, etc – something that would be completely not understandable at first glance. This is a build up from the point made in the analysis of caves and hunting grounds above: in public spaces, where everybody is a stranger, the smallest of links could greatly facilitate the interaction of otherwise completely random people. Actually, coming back to the sports example, the bigger the rivalry between the teams the more exacerbated the potential for socialization between members of the same fan base. It accentuates the differences to a point where one is on the look for people wearing the same team jersey, or same team hat and other paraphernalia, and when that happens there is an immediate bond between the two individuals. Thus a sense of a shared community is great in bringing people together, but it can be made even stronger if there is another community that in a way opposes the beliefs held by the first community. Jewish religion is so strong within its members because it is such minority, and has faced extinction many times; although some of its followers aren’t religious anymore, but still use it to define their identity. The same can also be understood to take effect in different heritage and country groups in a place like the US: if there were to form a group whose members where Americans, there would probably be nobody in the group besides its organizer; however, a group of a minority, for example, Koreans, or Muslims would probably have a strong showing. The emergence of Chinatown is a great Urban example of this phenomenon. In such a globalized world a need for identity is crucial – the feeling that one belongs to a specific group, different from most, is key. Thus creating conditions where this can take place is fundamental, creating difference in an otherwise blend environment is great way to go about designing spaces that can facilitate social interactions.


Art galleries, Dog Parks, Sports Events, Public Sculptures – These types of spaces can be placed under the category of spaces one goes to for their own inherent value, and with socialization happening in them because with so many people frequenting them one is given the chance to do so. The salient attribute of these spaces is what William H. White, in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, describes as ‘triangulation,’ that is, a third element added to the dyad of strangers that will make socialization easier. So in the case of an Art Gallery, two different people might be standing in front of an art piece, and the fact that both people share a common interest, and that usually one is having many thoughts about what one is seeing opens up or makes the transition between two complete strangers starting to talk about it a much smoother one. This observation alludes to the socialization factor, that for a lack of a better word, I will describe as ‘cool’ – starting a conversation with a completely random stranger is awkward, and it is awkward because one does it for no apparent reason, and because(where the ‘cool’ factor comes in) it implies that you don’t have friends already, that is, if one were to be happily married, and have a great number of friends already, one would have no reason or motive to approach a complete stranger and start talking to them other than for wanting something from the person, which, unless the person wants something from you as well, would create the awkward moment. Triangulation alludes to the fact that it becomes ok or ‘cool’ to talk to a random stranger if one has an excuse to do so and one is just sharing a great experience and can’t help but comment on it and expect an opinion from the other person. Thus, in a Dog Park for example, if one comes across an owner that happens to have a beautiful dog, one just “can’t help” but engage the owner; and the fact that if one is in a Dog park one probably has a dog as well provides plenty to talk about, experiences to share, etc.


Scuba diving, Skiing, sky diving, political manifestations – These kind of activities can have a very significant social aspect not by the space they take place in, since there isn’t anything thing exceptional about them (public streets, enclosed space of a boat, or plane) but by the intense experience that these people share; which in some cases can be life threatening. Engaging in such powerful experiences with complete strangers gives all the participants a great psychological bond, and socializing, especially when the groups are small (e.g. 6 people in a boat going scuba diving) becomes a non factor. And in the case of political manifestations, sharing something that one is really passionate about with somebody else gives the person great potential to become an instant friend.


Memorials and Monuments vs. Museums, Shopping malls – The first group are spaces that aren’t very social, despite the large crowds that they can attract. They are spaces of reverence and silence, and the fact that many of them are enormous spaces (not at all to a human scale) makes socializing even harder. One can argue that the purpose of these spaces is to make one feel small and reinforce the fact that one is an individual, given that one is contrasted to something a lot bigger, and one is put in a place one can notice there are many other individuals, but individuals one can’t talk to since it is supposed to be a space of reverence. All of this works to make one feel self-conscious, which is detrimental to achieving a social goal: where looseness of being, being outside of one’s head, and having attention on the experience being lived are encouraged (all of which are effects that alcohol possesses, which has been described as the greatest social lubricant). This is the point that the Triangulation mentioned above works on. What makes a Museum work as a social space is the fact that the minds of the people inhabiting those spaces are on something very different than themselves, that is, they are not self-conscious, since they are hopefully engaged in what they are doing or looking at, and thus starting a conversation about it would happen a little bit easier.


Cinemas, theaters, Bookshops, Shopping Malls – The important characteristic of these spaces, as far as socialization is concerned, is the prominence of circulation and an abundance of places to go to in a given space, especially when, through circulation, it is arranged in a closed loop (as opposed to a street). In theaters, or in Cinema-plexes that still have the practice of the “Intermission,” and more obviously in shopping malls, one circulates back and forth from different places (to the ticket booth, to the restroom, to the food counter, to the theater, and back again during intermission) and, coming back to the characteristic that makes neighborhoods establish a sense of community, one is afforded the all so crucial ‘repeated encounters’ with the same individuals, but now compressed in a few hours. Thus, one not only has many more opportunities to talk to someone, but the mere fact that one is seeing the same person for the second or third time makes them psychologically less of a stranger and easier to approach, especially if there is an interest from both parties to do so (e.g. given away through eye contact). The “Intermission“ as a social enabler also works very effectively in Sports events, and when watching TV in groups – the dreaded tv-commercial can be seen in a new light if one realizes that it is during them that people socialize, in for example watching a super bowl game with friends.


Bilbao, piers, park, beach – Many of these types of spaces (and many mentioned before) are inhabited by people that just want to be alone and enjoy what the space has to offer, so they are not necessarily the best socializing places, however, by the mere fact that many other people are attracted to the space for the same reasons, it has great potential and in many cases is one. In the case of the Bilbao Museum one can see how architecture (or in some level, one could argue, beauty or uniqueness) can work as an attractor. In the case of parks or beaches one is attracted by nature – its beauty or the comfort one feels when in them being a valuable experience in and of itself. The reason they aren’t spaces where people who do not know each other can interact with one another very successfully, is that it is a very open space, and anybody can monitor whatever activity one is doing, and when in these situations people tend to act in ways that everybody expects them to act, not in ways that could cause humiliation, if the other person were to reject one’s approach. In addition, unless one is circulating through the space one is sitting down in one spot, so one can have a chance of socializing only with the people that are sitting close by. People watching, like in most of today’s public spaces, are as far as social interactions between individuals will probably go. An interesting pattern of people distribution in these spaces (parks and beaches) is described by Mark C. Childs, in the book Squares, as happening in a checker-board form, that is, people tend to sit close to each other even if there is a big amount of open space and people could spread more evenly across the area; thus people tend to colonize the area in a radiating fashion (from the center out) from the people that first moved in to the space.


Squares – William H. White writes in the book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces about an interesting pattern of occupation of public squares and plazas (and to an extent open spaces like parks): essentially it is that people tend to inhabit the periphery of the space before the center, given that people tend to shy away from being the center of attention, and the center of a square tends to act like a stage, while the periphery like the seating area. Thus the lesson about designing squares is that they should not be ‘squares’ but rather rectangular or ellipsoid like, given that the perimeter should be maximized, while the area diminished (since it won’t be used as much). White also points out from his research that people like to sit with their backs toward something that is not completely open air, giving them a greater sense of psychological safety, and therefore making seating more comfortable.


Streets – Some streets can be the most public and active areas of a city, however, it does not ensure that social interaction is taking place between the people occupying it. Streets tend to have two general categories of users: the first being the ones that are using it purely as circulation space, have a very precise destination to which they are going, and are in a hurry to get there because they have other things to do – these will tend to not socialize at all. The second group are of people that aren’t really in a hurry, and are walking through a space as an entertainment activity – to people watch, ‘window shop’ and hopefully, but certainly not necessarily or expected, meet someone interesting and socialize. What helps in socializing in this group is the ‘triangulation factor’ mentioned before: street sculptures, interesting shops along the way, unusual events like accidents or street performances, the physical attractiveness of somebody passing by, as well as something quirky one might be wearing (like a t-shirt of a certain country, or sports team, or something that could catch the attention of a passerby). Another positive element of the street, as a public space, is that the number of people in them make it a safe place, a place you are probably not likely to get robbed or killed. In addition, people in the street keep moving, thus if one stops to talk to someone there is an atypical form of privacy, where nobody in the street can listen to the entire conversation, because they are moving on, thus one has a slight encouragement for socialization coming from the ‘face saving’ that the street provides because of that. Cars parked next to the sidewalk is another great element of the street that should not be overlooked in seeing what makes it viable: it provides the sidewalk with a sense of shelter by the enclosure it provides and safety from the traffic on the street, as well as providing a thing against which people can lean on and even sit on, therefore making socializing that more easy. And since we are on the topic of seating, I will mention another crucial, yet completely obvious, element that William White points out many public spaces lack: seats! The space can be very beautiful, and many people can pass by it, but if there aren’t any seats nobody is going to remain in the space for longer than the time that it takes them to walk across it (it doesn’t have to be formal seats, anything from ledges to steps will do).


Food and drink places – These spaces act as a good ‘add on’ to any social space. Everybody eats usually at least 3 times a day, and people have to eat, so if they are hungry and the social space they are in doesn’t provide food they will leave. Thus attaching them to other spaces is a great idea. They provide for a reason for permanence in the space and therefore give the space longer usage. It can also represent a point in a bigger space where people concentrate and stop for a little while before returning to their normal course, and a place they can come back to later after having finished utilizing the bigger space, for example, watching the entire art collection in an opening night at a gallery – people can always go back to the wine and cheese area to stock back up. In addition, it works as a great social facilitator for the following reasons: If one is in a bad conversation one has a great excuse to leave the conversation, but also, conversely, one can use it as an excuse to approach a conversation one would like to be a part of if, it is located close to the food area, or if this person one would like to engage is in the line waiting for the food, or waiting to order the food – in either case, the dead time that waiting for the food provides can be invaluable for socialization. However, these kind of small food places are not enough to be viable social spaces by themselves, given that the amount of time one waits for the food is generally short, and if they don’t come with seating arrangements (e.g. a street vendor, or food truck) people will get their food and leave; thus these kind of spaces have to be anchored to other spaces if they are to be effective.


Cafes – Cafes like Starbucks, are places that can provide for very long utilization, if one goes there to do work, as well as provide for very quick utilization, if one is on the way to work for example. However they aren’t great socialization places because they are formed of tables and tables act like small rooms, since if one is sitting in one, one’s back is turned to the rest of the room, and one faces only the people sitting in the same table (the rest are separated by chairs, the space between the tables, etc). The long utilization of a Café can be extremely valuable for activating a space, given that even in times of non peak activity, that is, not much of quick utilization, the area will still look active given that the people that go there to do work, will stay there for a long time, and although they are the same clients that were there an hour ago, and aren’t consuming anymore, one doesn’t need more to make the place look active. Thus, if one considers the curiosity factor, and that people are attracted to where other people are, one can understand that the retail surrounding the Café would benefit greatly from its presence. In addition people are also attracted to retail, and many will go to a place exclusively for the benefits the retail store provides, thus one can see how this builds up on the previous point, to create a circular effect that can make an area become extremely active.


Restaurants – as mentioned in the previous example, tables make for places that aren’t the best if one is looking to meet new people, because of the separation of spaces that it creates. In Addition Restaurants today have become not very good socialization places even if one already has a group of friends, because the owners want more and more money, therefore they will rush the clients to eat and them to leave as early as possible so they can fill the table with new customers and make more money (waiters today have become expert at very subtly coaxing people out of their seats as soon as they have finished eating). A custom that is used in Germany that can make Restaurants very successful social places is the practice of sharing tables with people: if one is eating alone, but is seating in a table for 4 it is customary practice there for somebody else to come and share the table with you.


Bars, Clubs – Bars and Clubs are one of the few examples of places that work explicitly as social spaces, and it points to a clear need of human beings: reproduction. Thus, no matter how awkward or frightening it might be to interact with complete strangers, human beings will go through with it in their search for a mate. Therefore, for at least a certain percentage of the population (the younger generation) social spaces will always be viable, because Sex will always be desired, or in other words, there is a safety net, in terms what one needs to do to attract users, for a part of the population just offering the possibility of finding a life partner, or the possibility of it will be enough to attract people to the space. More specifically, as far as characteristics of a bar that make socialization easier, one can consider that the bar ledge, and the people sitting on the chairs facing it are at the same eye level than people that are standing up. Thus what had been identified in the park as a problem, has been resolved by the bar – people standing up, or moving can interact with the people sitting down, that is, they can share the same zone, if the seats are made a lot higher (like that of a bar stool). And since the bar is such a popular area for social mixing, and it is all perimeter, one should extend it as much as possible so that more people can sit along it (a curvilinear one instead of a straight one could work well).


Bus, Airplane, Train – This is an example of spaces where social interactions happen completely by accident. For example, one is going to work, and has to wait at the bus stop for the bus – the presence of free time and the proximity of other people makes the bus stop a place where social interaction can take place in, when at first glance one would not expect it. The seating arrangements inside these transportation vehicles are also interesting in how they foster socialization: given that one is going to spend a big amount of time with nothing to do next to someone in a somewhat enclosed and private space that is at the same time very public; thus one has the safety provided by the space being public, but also the relaxation and ‘face saving’ trait of being in a quasi private space defined by the row of seating one is on and the one right in front, but also by the luggage area overhead that further works to enclose the space. Another peculiar characteristic of social spaces is that the first users of a space define what the rules of that space are going to be. This can be better understood by looking at the waiting areas in airports, for example, or the waiting room in a doctor’s office. These are spaces that don’t have any specific rules about how people are supposed to interact, but given that in such situations people will look at how other people are behaving for clues as to how they should behave, if one were to come in to a waiting room and find everybody talking, one would more easily also engage in conversation given that it becomes almost expected. If one were to walk in to the same room however, and find everybody quiet, one would probably follow course and not engage anybody in the space, especially if one were to consider that, unlike in a street where everybody is moving, in such a place everybody is monitoring the entirety of an interaction (unlike in a club, where the darkness and music make it impossible); thus if one were to approach somebody and the person rejected the invitation to socialize everybody would notice, which in turn could bring humiliation; therefore it would probably be avoided. Thus the first people in the space will probably decide how the rest of the people will interact in the space that day.


Pickup basketball/hockey/football games – The place provides the facilities in which the activity could take place, and provides enough density of people using the area that a small number of the total would be all that is needed to start a game.


Dance class, yoga, cooking class – One of the most viable social spaces today are different types of learning spaces, people are attracted because of the specific activities being taught, and because of the classroom setting one will end up meeting everybody else in the room, especially if it is an activity like dancing that is supposed to be done in group.


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