area developers can influence the impact of art in public space – Ruimtesontwikkeling.nu

Research With their work, the artists influence the public space and the accompanying reactions of passers-by. It makes sense. However, Australian research shows that area developers also have a role to play in this. They can affect the effect of art.

Art can contribute to the public space in different ways. In urban transformations, it contributes to the formation of a new identity for an existing urban area. According to others, it is an ideal way to make shopping streets lively (again). And in some cities, art is even considered an ideal anniversary gift seen.

No evaluations

But researchers Caroline Milne and Dorina Pojani from the Australian University of Queensland argue that it is difficult to make that contribution concrete. According to the duo, the effect of this type of artwork in the public space on the users of this space is hardly, if at all, evaluated after the unveiling. Not even when it comes to supported works and/or tasks. Therefore, little is known about how this art can have the greatest impact on the public space and users.

‘BRISBANE – 25 SEP 2014: Young Australian man looks at City Roo’s kangaroo sculpture. The design concept is based on sharing space with the Australian native and preserving its natural resources.’

by ChameleonsEye

(source: Shutterstock)


The research that is the focus of the article fills that gap Public art in cities: what makes it engaging and interactive? In this publication by Milne and Pojani, published in Journal of Urban Design, they focus on area developers and other professionals involved in art in public space. Can they affect the interaction between these works and the users? This is important, other researchers have concluded before, because there is a high chance that passers-by will not consciously visit the art. They do that in museums, for example. This makes it harder and more important to evoke interaction in this art form at the same time

Above all, the researchers do not want to influence the artists’ creative process with their results

The pair followed passersby’s interactions with eleven public artworks in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city with a population of 2.3 million, for three months. All statues and statues were placed in easily accessible places in the center of the city. Moreover, in the eyes of the researchers, interaction is a broad concept. From touch to climbing and from photography to just looking: all forms of interaction are included. Therefore, they only selected sculptures and other statues for the research, because interaction with, for example, a mural is much more one-dimensional.

Increase interest

Conclusion: not only artists, but also area developers and other professionals can use art to influence the interaction and thus the impact of the public space. The design is the most important, according to Milne and Pojani. When striking, colorful works are chosen, the chance for interaction is greatest. It is important that the artworks are not too large or too small, which reduces the chance of interaction.

australia brisbane balls of mayonnaise (source: Pixabay)

‘australia brisbane balls’

of mayonnaise

(source: Pixabay)


It is also striking that the location of the artwork (whether it is the park, the mall or a business district) has much less influence. As long as the object is easy to reach for passers-by. Artworks that have a geographical or cultural connection to the place in which they are located also seem to be more popular.

Above all, the researchers do not want to influence the artists’ creative process with their results. They hope to open the eyes of professionals involved in the design of public space. With the right selection of the artworks, they not only promote user interaction with the art. This also increases the wider interest in (public) art, museums and related events.

Art is also often assigned an important place in the Dutch public space. VPRO has already listed the highlights. And Joke de Wolf described earlier this year the role artists and creators can play in shaping public space. Which measures work?


Cover: ‘Brisbane, Australia – 25 March 2021: Lion sculpture in front of Brisbane City Hall’

by Alex Cimbal

(source: Shutterstock)


Jasper_monster_sandervanwettum by Sander van Wettum (source: SKG)

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