Informal Public Life


 “Great public space is a kind of magical good. It never ceases to yield happiness. It’s almost happiness itself”, explained Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, capital of Colombia, 


The peak of happiness from shopping is the very moment we buy a product but in a few days, the level of happiness decreases. At the contrary, whenever we visit a great public place, the happiness doesn’t fade. That’s because it could be the happiness itself.


Informal public life is a place where we could visit without any specific intention and could meet someone or something unexpected. The key feature in the informal public life is relaxed, warm atmosphere, as if the warmth and kindness of humanity is concentrated. Even though they can recognize no one familiar, staying in the same place with people provide a feeling of sharing something important. In a casual atmosphere, coexist Elderly people, men, women, foreigners, performers, vendors, dogs, cats, pigeons, whatever…. Anyone is welcomed and can stay there for a while. Sweet smell comes from anywhere. After staying for a while and seeing people around, one could realize how his or her life was busy. A sort of fraternity could be felt, surrounded by variety of people. The vibrancy of the place make us feel better and provide us a feeling of togetherness, even though initially we felt depressed or isolated in the society. The place is filled with positive, happy energy. Everyone comes that place to appreciate precious moments. It’s a place to go whenever one has complexed feeling such as ‘I don’t want to go back home’ or ‘I don’t want to go to office immediately’. After staying for a while, one could realize his or her level of stress decrease. Realizing the existence of many different people, they can find out their tiny doesn’t necessary represent the whole world. Even though they don’t talk to anyone, they could feel better and motivated to go farther. That’s the power of the informal public life.


Informal public life is a relaxed moment in a public place, containing following elements.

It’s a magical place to attract people far away from there.


-Many people visit there from morning until late at night.

-It’s open to everyone. 

-Everyone can stay there for a while.

-Key feature is warm atmosphere. Even though one might visit alone, he or she can feel togetherness.

-After staying for a while, one can feel better.

-People are relaxed and seems happy


As there is no social code, people can behave as themselves, rather than to play social role. As people tend to use the notion of “café” or “plaza” to describe some gathering place in Japan, there is common point between two places: there is no clear purpose of the place. Concert hall is a place to listen to the music and wine shop is to buy some wine, but in cafés, once they pay a cup of drink, they can talk, read a book, write a letter, check some mails, play the game etc. The same is true for the plaza, as there is no clear purpose of use, people could liberate from social code which is required in other spaces.


Information about author Miki IIDA