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Public Space 2 – The Familiar into the Strange

Press release February 24, 2011 Construction

Is it possible to use Umberto Ecos “The Poetics of the Open Work” as a strategic tool for urban development? According to “Public Space 2 - The Familiar into the Strange” the answer is a certain YES! Copenhagen based studio JUUL | FROST Architects have just released a digital version of “Public Space 2”. The book is based on a two year long development project, “Public Space as Catalysts for Change”, that sees public spaces as potential catalysts for change. The digital version is available as a free download.


Public Space 2 – The Familiar into the Strange is an architectural screenplay – a Toolbox - for people interested in and working with the development of public spaces and cities. The basis of the book is that all our cities are in intensive competition with each other in order to attract citizens, business and investments. In their efforts to become unique all cities end up pursuing the same developmental strategies. The result is that all European cities end up looking the same.

Public Space 2 addresses this tendency by developing a holistic and value based method for urban development. Based upon an interdisciplinary approach an innovative method that merges the scales of the city is developed. By using four interconnected levels - City, Space, Life shaping and Body - the method secures that the physical frames for our daily lifes are developed in interplay with the lived life.      

Throughout the book the authors move from thoughts over case studies to action - a journey that results in five different development strategies that can be pursued by urban planners and developers. The outcome are new operational tools that can be used in order to create strategies for public spaces that result in unique and attractive cities – regardless of size and location.

”’Public Space 2 – The Familiar into the Strange’ represents a reversible process. We re-read known theorist’s thoughts, analyze known places and withdraw new insights from their texts and the physical manifestations. Innovative urban development is not solely a question of developing something from scratch. Innovation is equally a question of taking something already known to new levels, and that is what we do in course of the book.”, explains Helle Juul, co-founder, Architect MAA, Ph.D., who has been in charge of the project.“Public Spaces are the social glue of our cities and in order to secure a holistic approach towards urban development we have developed a range of new methods. ‘Public Space 2’ works as a specific tool for our public spaces and can be used to create initiatives that define the frames for the ‘good public life”,she concludes.

Public Space 2 – The Familiar into the Strange is available as a download

For more info about JUUL | FROST Architects visit

Text for illustrations:
PScover: Public Space 2 cover

PSAmsterdam: Photo from the Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA case study

Public Space 2 – The familiar into the Strangeis divided into three major parts – Thoughts, Case Studies and Strategic tools. In thoughts works by among others Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guatarri, Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Sennett, Umberto Eco, Zygmunt Bauman are re-read. Their thoughts are merged into an interdisciplinary thought fusion. Case studies of Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA, Barcelona’s Jardin de la Torre de les Aigües Barcelona and Smithfield in Dublin are together with other case studies carried out through a method filter made up by four levels: City, Space, Life shaping and Body. The case studies lead to the development of 5 strategic tools that can be used to future proof public spaces: Acupuncture, Parallelism, Mnemonics, Area and Performativity.

Public Space 2 is the latest publication under the Public Space as a Catalyst for Changeproject - an interdisciplinary project that revolves around public spaces as catalysts for the development of cities by focusing on change and meaning as strategic tools. For the first two years the project was financed by Realdania and is now anchored at the RESEARCH+COMMUNICATION unit at JUUL | FROST Architects with Helle Juul, Architect MAA, Ph.D. as project manager and John Ploger, associate professor at Roskilde University as academic partner.