1. definition of Space of Potential
A Space of Potential is an undefined fragment of the urban fabric without obvious permanent function.
As these Spaces are undefined you can use them!
In The Hague we are finding them next to the canals or as large sidewalks, but you can find them everywhere in the urban environment.
By defining these spaces, we want to activate and use public space on a human, temporary scale.
2. urgency: why and how we started
We felt like trespassers in our own city.
We did not know what was allowed, so we stayed safe.
Public Space is what we share with strangers and therefore it connects our individual live to something bigger.
As cities are becoming the environment for most of humanity, the urgency for shared space is bigger than ever. All over the world shared, non-commercial spaces are disappearing, adsorbed by private enterprises.
Today making use of public space has become a political act and it is a right we should not want to give up.
We defined and used the Space of Potential in The Hague.
We felt urged to look into the regulations of our public space.
What is allowed in public and what is not?
And what are the reasons and implications of these laws?
In The Hague, the Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening regulates public order, nature and the appearance of the municipality. We are exploring and exploiting the limits and possibilities of these regulations as starting point for temporary interventions in public space.
Thus, we discover the unused potential of our city for self-expression, community-building and ever-changing situations.
3. intervention/practice-based research/initiative
Our method was investigative.
In a series of interventions we have explored different aspects of the Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening.
We have proposed different programs for public space, reacted to different formulations in the regulation and created spatial situations based on them.
Our research was based on practicing these interventions, trying to find answers to the following questions:
What is the unused potential of the city that we can discover by exploring its laws and physical structures?
How do people react to our interventions and what does it say about the social norms that regulate public space?
Conclusions that we’ve drawn are that even though situations are de facto allowed - the actual applied implementation of them differs.
We are certain that social norms regulate public space as much as the legislation.
However, we are aware that the appearance of ourselves specifically and the nature of our interventions is key to their undisturbed, uncomplicated realization.
Further, the context and surrounding of the Spaces of Potential that we activate is specific.
While intervening in a mainly residential neighborhood brings up observant residents and passers-by, intervening in a highly police surveilled area demanded justification of ourselves to the authorities.
By focussing on the communication of our undertakings, our project turned into an initiative.
Through reaching out to people around us, focussing on facilitating the ideas of others for their use of public space, and encouraging Space of Potential as a method, we want Space of Potential to empower people to make use of public space.
You can make a Space of Potential yourself.
As initiators our role is to inspire, test possibilities and provide a framework, but also hand over the potentialities to others.