Planetary Futures Goals 2030: Label-less Spaces presents ‘OSpace’
Blending futures-thinking and radical collaboration Futures Studios bring students together to explore the futures of technology, society, and creativity. Together with UAL Futures and IAM, participants’ collective mission is to define a set of Planetary Futures Goals — and activate creative projects.
Label-less Spaces is 1 of 4 Planetary Futures Goals created by studio participants in 2017/18.
OSpace is a collective project bringing together government agencies, community groups, general members of the public and private-sector experts to transform and evolve the future of public spaces. With every project talk or event, we act as a catalyst –we serve as a facilitator between the space and the public, encouraging use of the spaces.
Public space is like air — you don’t think about it until you’re lacking it. (Design Trust, New York)
In 2017 Guardian Cities released their comprehensive investigation into the growing number of pseudo public spaces in London, and the alarmingly dense level of secrecy that surrounds these spaces. After contacting the landowners of more than 50 pseudo-public spaces to inquire about the regulations of the spaces, and where these regulations were made available to the public, they received a response from only two landowners. This information shocked the public, and sparked a much-needed conversation about public space, and more so what is known as pseudo-public space. As described in The Guardian, pseudo-public spaces are large squares, parks, and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers.
This privatization of ownership allows for the landowners to enforce their own rules and regulations. For example, the space outside of city hall was purchased by a Kuwaiti investment firm for 1.86 billion pounds and has led to an influx of rules regarding use of the space, including no photographs, no loitering or no gathering in groups of more than 3. These privatized regulations are creating a disparity between the city and its inhabitants. London is home to nearly 8.8 million people all coexisting in the same spaces. It is likely that nearly every person who engages with London, whether it is through a permanent residence or a short term visit, has also engaged with a pseudo-public space.
One of the main problems with these pseudo-public spaces is that users of the space are not aware of the rights they have in the space. Whether an individual wished to take a personal photo, gather with friends or engage in any sort of artistic endeavour (busking, art installation, etc.) they would most likely be ushered out of the space by private security with no explanation.
In order to join the discourse surrounding public space, raise awareness and inform the public, increase transparency about public/ pseudo-public space, and encourage use of the spaces while working in collaboration with the private landowners, we have created OSpace.
OSpace is an organisation bringing together government agencies, community groups, general members of the public and private-sector experts to transform and evolve the future of public spaces. With every project talk or event, we act as a catalyst — we act as curators to deliver innovative, yet feasible, solutions for our collaborators to implement. We serve as a facilitator between the space and the public, encouraging use of the spaces. We aim to increase the transparency regarding the regulations of the spaces, and create and open dialogue between the private owners of the space and the members of the general public. OSpace exists to challenge the use of public spaces and exploit the use of them to reach their highest potential.
Our aim is to make people aware of the importance of public space through various projects and interventions. These interventions will raise awareness, inform the public and challenge all the activities you can do within the remit of the rules and regulations of a public space.
In order to effectively achieve this, we have come up with several different objectives and methods.
OSpace has created a working manifesto which highlights the core essential values we believe every public space should include. As the public space discourse continues to change and evolve, so will the manifesto. The four main values we chose to highlight include: transparency, diversity, collaboration and social dimension.
A map/ list of existing public spaces should be made widely available to the public. If the space is a pseudo-public space, it should be made clear who the owner of the space is. The rules and regulations of each individual space should be made accessible to the public through a wide range of platforms, including digital and physical. There should be a clear visual code for the rules, ensuring they can be understood and accessed by all. Landowners and their private security should be open to any questions from the public in relation to the regulations.
The public space should be open and welcome to everyone regardless of age, background, etc.
Landowners and members of the public should work in collaboration to ensure the space is being used to its full potential. Members of the public should be involved in any decisions regarding planning, design and administration of public spaces. There should be a clear and open dialogue between the city, private landowners and members of the public.
The public should be encouraged to fill the public space. The public space should encourage social interactions between users through the design, and various events/ activities held in the space.
Over the last few years the discourse surrounding the problems with pseudo-public spaces has skyrocketed and will continue to do so. Through the work of organisations like Guardian Cities and The London Space Academy, pseudo-public spaces are being mapped out and made clear to the public. We aim to work with these organisations to continue to map the spaces in London, while making this map open-source and open-access.
One of the key ways OSpace will add a new dimension to the mapping is by creating a visual framework for the regulations. This would increase accessibility and understanding of public spaces through providing an easy way of visualizing and understanding what is currently a very complicated legal system of rules and regulations.
To increase awareness and understanding about the importance of public space, and why members of the general public should care about the way spaces are governed, OSpace will hold a series of talks exploring themes of the present, near future and far future of public space.
These talks would aim to invite speakers from each sectors involved in or affected by public space issues. Before any sort of change can be made to the way the public interacts with public spaces, they must first understand the spaces.
In addition to the series of talks, OSpace will host ‘public interventions’ these interventions could include: art installations, musical events, talks, dinners, meet-ups, etc. to challenge and explore what a public space should be like, and what the future of public space could be.
The implantation and achievement of all of the aforementioned objectives will be done through our digital platforms including our website and app. Both the website and the app will include a map of the spaces, a visualisation and explanation of the rules and regulations, the manifesto, a list of different events and interventions taking place, and an easily accessible way to contact OSpace about any issues, inquires or interest regarding public space. A key feature of the app is the option to create your own personal profile, allowing you to make ‘OSpace buddies’.
With this, users are able to meet-up with likeminded individuals to take part in public space interventions. There will also be the option to host your own meet-up or intervention, and invite other OSpace users to join in.
Looking to the future of public space and remaining true to one of our core values of collaboration, OSpace will be working with The Age of No Retirement on their project titled “The Common Room.” The Age of No Retirement is an organisation that aims to create age-positive social change. Their goal is “to create a world where our age does not define us. Shattering age related barriers and ageist stereotypes. Creating an age inclusive future.” Through their “The Common Room” project, The Age of No Retirement will be creating spaces all around London that will serve as a place for skills exchanges to happen. Essentially a young graduate with no soft skills can learn from experienced seniors who have since retired from their chosen work force. They hope to create a more intergenerational workforce. While these new spaces don’t entirely fit in the remit of what a public space is, they provide a good example of the types of social interactions and meet-ups that could take place in public spaces, and showcase the importance of diversity.
While our main focus in the beginning of our public space exploration will be centred around the spaces in London, we understand that the issue of pseudo-public spaces and lack of transparency about the ownership and governing of these spaces is not specific to London. With this in mind OSpace has created a working future plan.
2018–2020. During the first year of operation, OSpace will be focusing our energy on raising awareness about public spaces through hosting our series of talks to kick off the conversation. We will have a diverse range of speakers ranging from architects, artists and space owners to discuss better ways to more effectively use public space and the future of public space. Through generating interest and awareness, we will be able to move the project forward and begin to host interventions in the spaces. Our website and app will both be launched in their beta stages, continuing to grow and develop as the organisation does. We will also be working diligently to help with the process of mapping public/pseudo-public space, as well as creating a visual language for the rules and regulations.
2025. By 2025, we aim to have all of the public and pseudo public spaces in London are mapped out (in collaboration with London Space Academy) as well as the rules and regulations of the spaces are made clear and visualized. There is a symbiotic and open relationship between private space owners and the public, leading to numerous art interventions, gatherings, festivals and more taking place in the spaces. The public feels comfortable knowing their rights in public spaces and are encouraged to make use of it.
2030. By 2030, we aim to have Ospace exist on a global scale. All major cities worldwide will have adopted the principles of the Ospace manifesto and there is no lack of transparency regarding use of public space and its governing. The app and website can be used in any city to allow for both residents of the cities and tourists to engage fully with the public spaces. Private landowners work with Ospace to collaborate with members of the public to ensure the spaces are filled with people.
We at OSpace believe the future of public spaces is open and transparent, diverse, full of social interactions, filled with interventions and at its very core public.
How to get involved?
- Check out the OSpace website at www.ospace2030.co.uk & sign up for our newsletter!
- Follow our journey through our Instagram and Twitter @ospace2030
- Get in touch! We would love to hear from you with any questions, ideas for the project, etc. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Keep an eye out for any upcoming events or talks we will be hosting!
Read more about Label-less Spaces: