In the Mindspace’s Sensing The Space Workshop series, the neighbourhood of the Palace and Hall Quarter was explored in a playful and experimental way with the direction of interdisciplinary and site-specific performance artist David Somló in the spring of 2018. All three occasions asks the same questions in a different way: What is it like to be here? Why? How else could we use these spaces? The workshops didn’t require any prequalification, and we were welcoming anyone who was interested in the city's re-discovery and in the shared thinking about the public spaces.
I. Seat Compositions
The number and layout of seating surfaces at public spaces may seem banal for first sight, but it is actually a complex question and urban policy-determining factor that is crucial in determining how public squares are used. In the first edition of the series after some warm-ups with a good folding chair in hand we were moving along the Guttenberg Square - Rákóczi Square - Blaha Lujza Square axis, playing together with radically different seating experiences, testing different layout options. We sat in every possible way and place, taking over any space that seemed relevant for relaxing, socializing or contemplating.
II. Slow-Mo Népszínház street
Rush is known to lead to a reduction in the perception of the world around us. By rushing, listening to music, already thinking of the next to do, we miss to realize the infinite details, stories, or sounds of the everyday world. The time had come to prolong the time and space in depth. During this workshop, we were walking 850 meters of the well-known Népszínház street in one and a half hour, meaning very, very slowly. There was time for everything from exploring the unrealized beauty of architectural details to overhear absurd conversations of the street. The task was also great to experience the tolerant and relaxed vibe of the most multicultural street of Budapest.
III. Flaneur Budapest
‘Flaneurs’ do not move in the city because they are looking for something. Their aim is to submerge in its surface and to contemplate on its delicate moments. Small details, caught coversations, a naked shoulder in the window - these are the things they are looking for. In the final workshop the participants could explore four city meditation techniques on their own to discover/rediscover the surrounding areas, to get lost, to be attentive and to practice the pleasure of loitering.
In these workshops we were working with small groups (10-15) which allowed a focused attention on the experience of each participant. The workshops were fruitful in provoking new experiences and conversations about the livability of the neighbourhood as well as general preferences in Budapest. In the possible continuation of the series we are planning to invite urbanist/city planner professionals and students to mix with non professionals.
Text: David Somló