Publicly shared domestic-related amenities: Pockets of privacy enhancing public space

  • Laurence Kimmel Built Environment, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia
  • Christian Tietz Built Environment, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia
Keywords: public space, private usage, domestic, amenity, social interactions


This article discusses amenities that are shared by anyone in public space, such as public barbecues in Australia. The idea is generalized to a range of domestic-related amenities, from kitchen-related to bathroom-related, etc. As these domestic-related amenities relate to usage that is typically conducted within a dwelling, the amenity and its architecture can be considered a “pocket of privacy” in public space (Pocket). Our discussion explores how these publicly shared domestic-related amenities can address particular needs of society in the context of their economic, symbolic, aesthetic and ethical value. Specifically, we suggest that Pockets productively address the politics of public space and private place in three key ways: through the negotiation of the presence of people in public space, through the negotiation of individual and collective usage of the amenity, and through the gap between the symbolic and economic power created by the usage of these amenities. We conclude by proposing planning principles that may enable the economic, symbolic, aesthetic and ethical value of these amenities to be fully realized in ways that balance the politics of public space and private place.


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