00:00 / 00:00
17 September 2015
The original concept of the town square has evolved quite significantly through the years, so what lessons can we draw from its journey? Whether they’re the centre stage for political protests or the ideal place for your morning stroll, squares play an essential role in expanding the public realm.
17 September 2015
Photo: Sébastien Amiet
Paris is currently in the process of revamping seven of its major town squares and one of the most complex projects is the Place de la Bastille. But apart from the name there’s no sign of the site’s heritage. We look at some of the previous planning decisions and ponder what could be the future for la Bastille.
Share chapter 1
Egypt’s Tahrir Square was where thousands of people gathered in 2011 and 2013 for the popular protests that overthrew two consecutive governments: the stage for Egypt’s Revolution and part of the Arab Spring. But now protesters are banned from meeting there and the government is trying to give the square a facelift. They say this isn’t political but many disagree – we find out more.
Share chapter 2
Photo: Garry Knight
There’s much debate about how to properly build a town square – from considering the buildings nearby to beautification and sometimes a bit of defensive architecture too. But it is important to take a step back and understand how powerful a square can be. So, where does the concept of the modern town square come from? Nick Childs, founding partner of the architecture practice Childs & Sulzmann, tells us how the design of the square evolved through the years.
Share chapter 3
Photo: C_Marjan Lazarevski
Macedonia’s capital Skopje is something of a monument to the brutalist school of architecture and one of its main features was an open plaza at the centre of the city. It was devoid of statues, fountains and any other kind of decoration but popular as a meeting point. But now all that’s changed. Visit Skopje today and the main square looks like somebody’s staging a sculpture exhibition there, due to a project called Skopje 2014.
Share chapter 4
Want more radio episodes like these in your inbox?
Sign up to Monocle’s email newsletters to stay on top of news and opinion, plus the latest from the magazine, radio, film and shop.
The Urbanist - latest episodes
We marvel at the beauty and utility of city metro systems from France to Nigeria. Plus, we explore what is happening below ground in Seattle
Ivan Carvalho takes us to California to visit the Sea Ranch Lodge – and the coastal community that inspired it.
We explore how urban activism can help to save our cities, including one man who galvanised efforts in Ukraine to build back better and the battle against the redevelopment of a cultural hub in Helsinki.
Bella Jewell explores Pietracamela, an Italian mountain town whose economy has been shaken by global warming and a lack of snow.
We explore the unique challenges India faces as its cities grow and we investigate how mass-timber construction is gaining momentum in the UK.
Alexei Korolyov visits the production facilities of a city-owned organic farming concept that has been established within Vienna’s city limits.
We bring you exclusive interviews and highlights from the latest edition of the Monocle Quality of Life conference, which took place in Munich.
Gregory Scruggs tackles the Grouse Grind trail, one of Vancouver’s most fabled hikes and a boon to citizens’ quality of life.
To mark Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Munich, we explore the best urban happenings in the city from experiments in pedestrianisation to regeneration projects.
Tom Webb takes us to Munich’s best-known bar, where owner Charles Schumann is famous for cultivating exceptional hospitality.
Every ten years Switzerland builds a city within a city for ‘Badenfahrt’, the largest urban festival in the country. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, it’s more spectacular than ever and we tagged along to find…
Ed Stocker takes us to a surprising wartime relic that he discovered on a recent walk through the streets of Hamburg.
We cast our eyes across to the US to review some recent urbanism stories that have caught our attention.
Tomás Pinheiro takes us to Auroville, an experimental township mostly in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, to see what lessons we can learn from this “laboratory for humanity”.
We investigate a new trend at universities in the US as they begin to devote parts of their campuses to arts and culture. We also find out what city planners can learn from nature as we speak to an expert in biomimicry.