To my mind, one of the most compelling features of a provocative urban environment is a place where people watch people—which becomes a small-scale human observatory.

Such places are often indicative of safe public environments, including active streets, corners and squares. They are particularly prevalent in cultures where neighbors readily interact, and the seams between public and private are softer than zoning setbacks, while still allowing for a private world.

From Lecce, Italy today, I am focusing on qualities of urban spaces we can learn from, rather than oft-quoted metrics or other indices of success.

The sustainable cities we seek should include small places, where, as here, when the bustle of life begins in the morning and evening, people interact with facets of the city around them.

I suspect that workable density, in the city of the future, will abound with the types of spaces readily ascertainable from cities of the past.

We need places where we sit on the edges of the public realm and look in the mirror, to be reminded of who we really are.

All images composed by the author. Submitted from Lecce, Italy. For more detail, click on each image below.

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