“ Thanks Prashanthi – this is a great piece and you’ve clearly put a lot of time into it. Please find below a couple of thoughts coming from an urban planning viewpoint. Also keeping in mind that I only visited the Arcade once (which was an interesting experience on its own as I was with another female friend and we had come from doing some sport, were sweaty and in shorts and t-shirts – not what visitors are expected to be wearing).
- To me it was an interesting space - I felt it was more like a shopping mall, which is not a public space rather than a park, (which is a public space, even Independence Square).
- I think you nail it with the paragraph that begins "So in I went..." - there really is a defined boundary (not a fence) around the site - you know when you're in and when you're out. This can be good design and can dictate the way people behave and it certainly is a space where your behaviour is dictated. Sure, you can have fun with the fish, or have your picture with that sculpture but there are limited opportunities to sit, relax and enjoy the space, especially if you don’t want to purchase food or drink. You can perch on an edge, sit on one of those concrete blocks but you can't spread out a picnic.
- There is also, as inadvertently highlighted by her article, few spaces, apart from the buildings themselves, that are under cover - during the day it is hot, during the rain it is wet. (Although I must add that this element has been improved upon from the Dutch Hospital precinct.)
- The range of shops is limited however I do find it somewhat strange that there is a fast food Burger King in amongst almost exclusive high-end shopping.
- I would be interested to visit the toilets there - to establish firstly how easy they are to find and then access (upstairs?), how welcoming they are, what design they are. Toilets are another way that a space can be intimidating.
- There is a real need for public spaces in Colombo that are welcoming and open for all, as a diverse and growing city there is also a need for high-end shopping precincts, and the Arcade, to me, caters to that need rather than the public space.
Thanks for taking the time to investigate the piece and publish your thoughts. ”