2023 | After Distancing: A New Index for Public Space

Every critical moment in history returns public space to center stage. The Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, with its distancing requirements, has generated interest in reassessing existing urban spaces and generated a trend toward the development of new types and forms of public spaces.

After Distancing: A New Index for Public Space explores the condition of contemporary publicness, with a focus on public space in urban settings. “Publicness” is increasingly being recognized as a central notion in contemporary debate, in conjunction with understanding of its critical importance for democratic life.

In this context, After Distancing seeks to contribute to a renewed understanding of publicness by revisiting and reworking the vocabulary used to discuss it. Crucially, it advances the argument that publicness cannot be dissociated from a series of acts of imagination – hence, also, the vocabulary and categories through which it is read.

After Distancing is organized into three parts: Part I (“Another Fragment of Future History”) provides a theoretical introduction to the idea of public space and publicness; Part II (“Sensing and Imagining the Public Domain”) offers a new index of terms and ideas to capture publicness, including Affect, Alignments, Diagrams, Documenting, Elements, Flow, Making-statements, Remembering, Nature, Refuge, Sociability, and Syncing; Part III (“Random Walks in Public Space”) invites the reader to figure out what is occurring to publicness through the lens of nonlinear evolutionary dynamics, as a mean for envisioning the future of public spaces.

The outcome of a conversation across disciplines – namely, architecture and sociology – After Distancing retraces the historical evolution of publicness, so as to better imagine its contemporary challenges, recognizing that public space is inherently messy, conflicted, and varying.

Support for this project was provided by Trento University and Tel Aviv University.


  • PIs: Tali Hatuka, Andrea Mubi Brighenti
  • RA: Eduarda Tenenbaum