The Public Space - Introduction
Ricardo Carvalho


Public spaces established in Europe the mediation of subjectivity, the expression and experience of the ordinary and are currently at a pivotal moment.  They can be formal as in the 19th century, a style that was spread throughout Europe, or they can be modern and associated to consumption and to historical and symbolic values. The square has been a typical construction in European cities, used by the capitalist city of the 19thc and has become a symbolic space in the contemporary city. 

Modern universal public spaces are usually not close to the enlightened model. They embrace complexity and propose new formalizations of what is public. One of the greatest conceptual challenges architecture faces is the design of the public thing, complex, informal. This challenge takes place at a time when contemporary cities are becoming depoliticized and gradually move away from the public Greek model - "in the public eye" - and the Roman civis. Because today, public and private mix, and constructing a square is a means of clarifying this fluctuation between being the same and being different. Considering that contemporary cities are being depoliticized and complex, we can state that abandoning public space equals abandoning politics. 
This collection includes the papers presented at the international conference on Public Space. The Place of the Square in the Contemporary City, organized by DA/UAL in partnership with ISCTE and the support of the Architect Association, and held on 13 and 14 January 2012.
Ricardo Carvalho