Public Life

/ Karen Pickering / Creative Workspace

In our Creative Workspace CoG we are involved with buildings that can contribute to the public life of the city, as well as providing private space for work. One of our aims for 2014 is to look at how our projects can be more engaged and embedded in the city. One of the challenges is how we depict that public - private relationship.

Historically there is one established way of doing this – the so called Nolli plan named after its originator Giambattista Nolli who fashioned the plan for Pope Benedict between 1736 and 1748. Specifically the Nolli Plan of Rome divided the city into public space in white including internal spaces such as churches, and private in black. It became a clear statement of how buildings make the public realm, both inside and outside themselves. Crucially the white zones represent the contribution buildings make to their city, in reality fully three dimensional and atmospheric spaces – the theatre of public life.

In pursuit of our embedded civic values and goals, a number of our design teams have retro-drawn a number of our civic and quasi public but privately owned buildings in Glasgow to test the technique. What emerges is the consistency and desire to contribute to the public realm of the city and facilitate the public interaction with the private areas of the city.

This initiative has potentially broader application. The Scottish Government review Town Centres led by Malcolm Fraser identified the desire to promote the location of any publicly funded building in the town centre rather than out of town. Good reasons for this are as a first priority it ensures the use by staff of the town centres for after work meetings and shopping etc; but secondly to take advantage of any contribution such buildings might make to the civic realm themselves. In that respect the Nolli plan diagram or its digital upgrade, might be a technical template and requirement for the representation of any such future investment.

Nolli plan of Scottish Power Headquarters