3 / 2021
Once upon a time there was a non-square
Once upon a time, there was a square next to the central railway station. The square wasn’t actually a square at all, but rather an empty space in the heart of the city. It didn’t offer much of a first impression to people arriving in the city, and locals hurried across the square with their shoulders hunched.
Many operators had been competing to build up the square, but all attempts had failed due to various reasons. Sometimes, there was too much office space, and at other times, valuable old buildings had been in danger of being outshadowed by new structures.
Until one day, a group of motivated operators from the locality decided to begin an initiative to develop the non-square. They understood the square’s importance, and were convinced that any plan would require the support of officials, experts and city dwellers. Therefore, the group contacted the decision makers and suggested that they would get together and arrange an open design competition to find solutions that would work for the square.
The decision makers of the city got excited about the initiative - they had also been thinking about an open competition to develop the important square. Before the competition, they decided to ask the city’s inhabitants what they would like the square to be. For that purpose, they arranged a workshop where residents got to sketch their dreams together with the experts. The planning of the square was widely covered in the media across the country, and the conversation about the future of the square was continued at an energetic pace. The outcome of the planning workshop and discussions were collected and used as part of the source material for the competition.
The competition received a number of proposals which had carefully considered the values of the area and rigorously explored how the square could be developed in the best way possible. There was a diverse representation of decision makers, experts and city dwellers in the competition jury. The jury chose a deserving winner, in whose proposal the planned new buildings, space given to the historical buildings and the cozyness of the square were in balance.
As the winning proposal proceeded towards the building phase, the city dwellers were asked to give their opinions again. In the end, the plan was implemented and the non-square transformed into a lively and comfortable urban space, a real square. The new buildings were built to last hundreds of years, and the atmosphere of the square was conceived to be timeless.
The outcome was magnificent. The city dwellers were happy that they had been offered an opportunity to participate in the development of their own city right from the initial stages, different operators in the area got their money's worth, and the decision makers were happy that they managed to advocate for the benefit of the city dwellers. Stories were told about the development of the non-square around the country, and it set an example for other cities to follow. Nowadays, the passers-by do not hurry shoulders hunched through the square - instead they stop and enjoy the moment..