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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Enjoying Public Space in Swiss Cities

  • Author(s): Brunner, Beat
  • et al.

From transforming fire-hydrants, to public snow-sculpting, to growing "mini-gardens," Swiss cities and towns are undertaking initiatives to re-imagine the urban experience, in order to make it more pleasant, memorable, and relevant, for its residents. Here, I share several art projects that I have been involved in first-hand over the past several years, starting in the 1980s in the town of St. Gallen and in the village Braunwald, Switzerland, demonstrating how: a) through the re-painting of fire-hydrants as dwarfs, fairytales come alive in urban places, which re-energizes public places in rather unpredictable ways; b) through public snow-sculpting using scratched ice from a local ice-rink, discarded material is put into new, creative, and decorative use; and c. through guerilla gardening in public places, locals take care for a “mini-garden” set by the council in a wooden frame, creating a shared experience that will culminate in having a meal together, cooked from the vegetables grown in the mini-garden, and shared on the street, where the mini-garden is located.


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