The Secret of Spaces

The Secret of Spaces


‘Throughout history, cities, towns and villages have been places where people have come together to live, socialise and exchange goods and ideas. In doing so, they have contributed to tremendous human progress.’ From: A Manifesto for public Spaces from the Major of London – November 2009


The journey of this academic year in getting to know people’s secret spaces, has been a year of wonderful connections, experiences and incredible learning. From the great versatile choice of residential spaces to an equal versatile option of public spaces. As people we are made for interactions and connections, no matter how extensive or private these connections are. In exploring the great variety, use and purpose of the spaces, the importance of connection is a highlight of this project.

At home there is the room for connecting to loved ones, who are allowed a more intimate relationship with the owner of the property. The property, the home, is not a commercial venture, but a personal refuse. It is functional, addressing basic needs as eating, resting, protection; and it is celebratory. It celebrates memories, displaying items that make connections to happy memories, to special people. It celebrate decoration, beauty and comfort and in the case of the houses I have had the pleasure of visiting there is always some effort or attempt to connect with the outdoor world and nature. Homes, whenever possible, are havens of peace and security but also allow for integration and connections with gardens and expanding further to the use of public spaces. ‘Public spaces shape the way communities and neighbourhood mash together. They inform the way everyone sees the city and they contribute to the lives of its residents and the experiences of its visitors.[i]’ According to Cabe Space more than half of the UK population will make at least 2.5 billion visits to urban green spaces alone. It is certainly of great importance and I have had the privilege to experience some of these spaces and actually consider each environment. From the municipal little patch of grass to more elaborate, historical and innovative spaces. Each unique and individual, each communal and irreplaceable.

For the selection of the final body of work I conclude ‘The Secret of Spaces’ project with a selection of images that keep to the cycle and continuity of life and of connections, from home and inside to public and outside, day in and day out; keeping with the change of times and sharing moments records that have created connections to myself personally. I would consider it a successful project should it also create connections or provoke a refreshed awareness and appreciation with the spaces around us all and how to best value and care for them.

I start at home intimate image, completely embracing and welcoming the viewer to be welcome and made to feel at home and part of the scene. With an image that is not too revealing, yet does not fully present all the story and context. This image also plays part to my Brazilian heritage, for when one is full received into the household they are extended the intimacy of entering the house through the kitchen and promptly offered a refreshment and integrated in the running of the day.



The second image flows from that inviting the viewer to the intimacy of the kitchen. Whereas in living rooms and drawing rooms the memorable features are displayed; the kitchen will feature a cosy love giving and will showcase a different, more intimate record of loved ones and important keepsakes, notes, reminders and nurturing. It is a smaller area of proximity and provision.


A house is a place that accommodates different needs and nurtures various activities, encompassing many features and functions. I progress with a selection of images that show a diversity of environments that also follow a time of day sequence. Starting with a conservatory area that serves as a play area as well as a respite and contemplative space that again connects the indoors with the outdoors, allowing for a significant amount of natural light to flood the room as well as providing almost a bird’s eye view into the trees.


Also showcasing a dining and living area, followed by a drawing room in the twilight of day and completing with the comfort and intimacy of the bedroom. Of all the places this is the space to fully let go of the day’s challenges and replenish for the next day. I also like how this room also provides that important window frame, connecting again with the nature and wild life on the outside, even emulating a flying bird as a decorative element to the window.




Although the connection to the outdoors enhances the value and significance of the interior, the residential spaces are all about what the interior provides. Respectively the external public spaces are all about connecting both people and nature in open areas, sometimes even accommodating for small wild life. As a start of a new day, I open the next stage with the public spaces with an image overtaken by nature. At dusk with the sunshine thawing the fresh frost from the cold night. Though manmade, this is a wide green space in the vicinity of residential areas, allowing and inviting local residents to enjoy the area, the connection with one another, with nature, allowing children to play together and exercise; greatly contributing for a healthy physical and mental life style.


There are two feature issues to be aware of when it comes to the wellbeing of the community when it comes to public spaces. On is the issue of the importance of healthy public spaces for the wellbeing and prosperity of a community. Which will have an impact on life expectancy as it promotes a healthy lifestyle through exercise, sport, play and the connection with nature; the fact that well planned and maintained public spaces attract people to certain neighbourhoods and make them more desirable areas to live in, therefore  also providing opportunity for local businesses to thrive with local amenities. The success of public spaces will have a direct impact on the local community’s health, prosperity, as well as also reducing crime rates in successful green public spaces, as per the report of The Value of Public Space by Cabe Space brochure (see folder outcome 2 for evidence).

A second issue of great importance to our society at the moment is the sustainability and climate change of the world. The Mayor of London’s manifesto in 2009, highlights the importance of acting on this challenge and improve public spaces in order to keep the city of London, in this case, a pleasant place to live, for now and years to come, by reducing emissions, improving quality of life and promoting a city when people want to live in and invest; as well as inspiring other cities to do the same.

The following images on the use of the public spaces around the Bradford area and extending to the city of Birmingham are bitter sweet. On the one hand they portray the availability and concern for public spaces, allowing for connections and interactions of people of all ages. On the other hand, the more I explored and investigated different use of public spaces, the less nature was available. This is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed if people want the cities to be sustainable, healthy and prosperous for today and for the next generation. Climate change is a life threatening issue and it is incredible how the good network of public and green spaces can contribute to the wellbeing of the city and the community and nature.



In this second stage in the portrayal of this body of work, I have started with sun rise, I finish with sunset; I started with an image portraying a space not only close to the country side but bringing a lot of the country side into the city; and now I conclude this second set of images of the body of work as a whole with an image in the heart of a metropolis, Birmingham. Showcasing an ingenious approach to creating exterior public spaces in the shape roof top gardens at the new Birmingham’s library. Playing with lines and shapes I chose this composition that played with the lines of the building and the architecture of the gardens which combine the intricate designs of both cities and nature. The gardens provide a unique view of the city and a unique space to be enjoyed and appreciated, inviting both local residents as well as tourist and consequently increasing business. At least that is the idea. The gardens are designed to encourage people interaction, with many seating spaces; but also have the care for nature with plant an flower pots and even bird houses on top of facilitating an alternative use of space, inviting people to enjoy not only the content of knowledge found within the library, but also enjoying the exterior space and having a different view of the city.


Whereas on the first section of the body of work I focused on the residential and personal aspects of people’s values and uses of space, on the second section I have focused on cities’ uses of space in land; from the country to the heart of a major city. I present a final section looking at the coast line and the unique uses of spaces by sea and water. Keeping in line with the idea of time of day and continuity of life.

It is all about people and for people. That is the bottom line of all the choices, both residential and public. It is all for creating healthy environments where people can thrive. So to open this last section I have chosen an image of featured statues that can be compared with the photographs of loved ones in any person’s mantel piece. All photographs people display in their homes are of loved ones and of precious memories. I liked how this was also done in a 3D aspect with various uses of statues. These represent important people of important times in the history of that city, that are there to be shared, enjoyed and remembered by all. For stories to be passed down from generation to generation, and shred from locals to visitors. These are marks in history and history is an invaluable asset, both in people’s personal lives with the simple example of the photos in the mantel piece; to the community and overall history of regions, kingdoms, battles, migrations emigrations, transitions in the world. They tell us where we came from.


Following the water colours and flow I chose the next image to be the coastal image of a developed public space by the sea. The space that is shapes beyond the sand, emulating the waves and changes of both sand and sea; still facilitating access and creating space for people of all ages by the sea.


From looking out to the sea, to now, almost as if turning one’s head inland, I bring the focus back to the historical constructions of the important port city of Cardiff, with the imposing historical and modern builds and the tailored public space designed for people to have access and enjoy this important area of the city. Which again tailors for people of all ages and provides a space for connections, interactions and exchanges of ideas and goods.


I conclude the display of this body of work with another world renowned port city, the city of Liverpool and in incredible changes it has gone through and reported uses of space, transforming what could have been a derelict space by now due to changes in history and technologies, but is instead a vibrant network of key public spaces that talk of time, history and culture, that provide with uncountable opportunities for connections and interactions. I chose this particular image of the Albert Docks for their historical importance, the play on the docked boat indicating the end of this journey (though the traveling can always take sail again); combining the red bricks from the Cardiff built to the red brick of the Albert Docks, joining two incredible cities and concluding with the sun setting again, marking the end of another day.


The process of this body of work has been challenging and rewarding. I had but a faint idealising of the beauty of each use of space; little did I know if holds so much meaning and is so fundamental to our human development and sustainability. I contribute with my passion and view of the world and can only hope it will also encourage positive change.


Susanne Silveira
Studio Practice 3B
Photography BA Hons – Year 3
Bradford College / Leeds Beckett

A Manifesto for public Spaces from the Major of London – November 2009