30 November 2010

Suggestive Proposal: Public Nookie

The nook is not just a waste of space, argue Daisy Froud and Geoff Shearcroft (of AOC) in their 2005 essay 'Suggestive Proposal: Public Nookie'. Taking their research on the nook in domestic architecture as “clearly defined recesses of no prescribed purpose, rather than left-over or in-between space” they say observe that nooks“contrast with and heighten the qualities of adjacent areas.” They put forth an argument for the transplantation of the domestic nook into the public realm so that people can retreat to a more familiarly scaled space. Central to this argument is the belief that “people take pleasure in temporary territorialisation of shared space, from the arrangement of their bodies, to the placement of possessions” - nooks, potentially, would allow this. In these spaces people can gather their thoughts before emerging back into society, the crowd, and reengage with it afresh.

Intimacy is something the crowd offers to society but it is more than often unwanted (as described by Jonathan Raban in Soft City) what the nook offers is a self-intimacy achieved through changes in scale and difference. These spaces are not wide and expansive but small, subjective and open to interpretation, where people can “slot into.” What a nook has the chance of offering is a sense of the familiar in an increasingly disorientating world.

Public space today seems to be preoccupied with controlling the masses, moving them through it and keeping them safe, it no longer gives its' users a reason to stop and look, to think and observe the goings on around them. The spectacle of the city, once championed by movements such as the situationists, is lost. Perhaps a recess in space is what is now needed to reinvigorate the public realm, adding a new layer to it. Of course the chances of this happening in the UK appear slim, any such space would most likely be deemed inappropriate under some guidance such as Secure by Design - large open spaces, with CCTV cameras, are deemed far easily to control.


Froud, D. & Shearcroft, G. (2005), A Suggestive Proposal: Public Nookie, Made, wsa Journal, pp40-1, Issue 2