Public spaces throughout history have been the heart of cities. They provide a forum for the spontaneous exchange of thoughts and ideas between people. Historically used as a place to manifest both political control and social protest, controversy often arises over the motives behind the types of ideas and thoughts that are being exchanged. As a way to control the public’s uses of urban space urban forms are becoming more inward focused “…with the private and personal having taken precedence over the public and impersonal…” (Hou)
As regulation of urban public spaces increases and the scale of the urban form become less human, people are forced to find new ways of creating a sense of belonging and ownership in the urban environment. That expression manifests itself in many ways such as in how people dress and what kind of car they drive, or whether they choose to drive at all. Forms of expression can also be found marking the physical urban landscape. While looking for the spontaneous public hand in the urban fabric I noticed, not surprisingly, that these expressions tend to be found in urban alleyways, on abandoned buildings, and in industrial areas. Safely hidden in the shadows, it appears that these places have become the last frontier of the urban environment and people have chosen those places as a refuge to safely experiment with expression.