Indoor Public Space

is what we make of it.

Ten Inspiring Indoor Public Space Moments — Pt. 2

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Most of the videos in this series are filmed in markets, malls, subway cars or train stations — and there’s a reason for that: there are few public spaces in modern cities that aren’t dedicated either to shopping or shuttling people back and forth between their home and workplace.  Despite these constraints, the people in these videos have found ways to bring these monotonous spaces to life.  Some people are making art, some are exploring the way their bodies move in open space, some are making political statements, but they all have one thing in common: they’re having fun.

Sometimes the best way to have fun is to get out of your house, strap on some rollerskates and move around in quick circles.  Check out this close-up view of a quadskating conga line:

6. Rollerskaters at the Stratford Shopping Centre

Doesn’t that look like fun?  It was filmed at an open rollerskating session at a mall in London that has a very interesting policy about use of space after hours.  To read more about the Stratford Shopping Centre click here.

If you don’t mind looking a little silly, you can even express yourself in a utilitarian space like a grocery store.  You might even make somebody smile.

7. Phil Dancing in the Grocery Store

Phil Villeneuve’s Youtube channel is full of great little videos like this.  He dances in all kinds of indoor public spaces including museums, St. Lawrence Market, shopping malls and botanical gardens.

While one person can provoke a few grins in a grocery store, an incognito opera company in a public market can really turn heads:

8. Toreador at Reading Terminal Market

This “random act of culture” features the Opera Company of Philadelphia and I freaking love it!  It’s great to see the general public reacting to the raw power of ‘high culture.’  Encountering singers of this calibre in regular clothes foregrounds their exceptional talent and makes you realize how startling their artistry really is.

Seeing professionals in action is thrilling, but a similar event that also welcomes amateurs to join in the fun seems like it would be profoundly fulfilling.

9. Paris Choral Society sings Hallelujah

And what a space they’ve chosen to do it in!

The next clip is a political act and a glorious song all at once:

10. Idle No More: 

In this video, participants in the Idle No More movement are shaking up a mall in Minnesota with drums and voices in support of Theresa Spence’s hunger strike in 2012.  More than any of the other videos this scene surges with energy and reminds us of the passion and depth of feeling that we can and should be enjoying when we gather together as human beings.

All ten videos on our list capture unusual and creative acts in public spaces.  In order to break through the humdrum tedium of city living we need indoor spaces that are open to strange behaviour and unexpected activities.  We need spaces where security guards are not trained to ask ‘Do you have a permit for that?’ at the slightest hint of human ingenuity and self-expression.


Author: Matthew Lie - Paehlke

Matthew Lie-Paehlke is a PhD student in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto.

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