Private Space Essay

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Private Spaces in Public Spaces: Indian Sidewalks

Public and private are social constructs that manifest in built world. Streets and sidewalks have always been thought as public spaces. However, Indian sidewalks ( or footpaths, as they are called in India) constitute many social practices that can be considered as private activities. I propose that these activities create pockets of private spaces, temporal or permanent, on sidewalks which are primarily public spaces.

Indian sidewalks represent the complexities of society. They are used and appropriated extensively. Pedestrian movement merges with many economic, political, religious and residential activities. There are moving hawkers, stationary vendors, food stalls, and tea stalls. There are street festivals and political demonstrations. There are sidewalk shrines and their followers. There are moving beggars and beggars who stay in the same territory for many years. There are urban poor who make their shelters on sidewalks, and there are some who sleep on sidewalks without any cover. These sidewalk dwellers change their claimed space physically and socially. It is also common that owners of abutting buildings maintain and sometimes physically modify the sidewalks. They claim their right over the sidewalk by beginning to use it as their private
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I would argue that not all private activities exist to negate the accessibility or inclusiveness. A democratic society should not be planning against the private uses of the sidewalks. However, the city authorities and urban designers only see fully public streets and sidewalks as ideals. A better understanding of the balance of public and private on the sidewalks can help, in the future, to develop more appropriate and adaptive models of public spaces, as the cities grow, change and

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