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Table of Content

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Problem Definition


Sub Questions










Shared Space


Definition of a Shared Space


Social Interaction


Body Language & Interaction


Theories of Body Language




The Four Distances


Cultural Considerations


Architectural Influence on Social Interaction in a Shared Space


Social Space versus Shared Space


The Social Norms associated with Shared Spaces


The Impact and Influence of Architecture


Genders in Spaces

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Introduction to Fieldwork conducted in Amagertorv & Axeltorv

11.0 Analytical Comparison of Axeltorv and Amagertorv



11.1 Body language Trends


History of Amagertorv

11.2 Proxemic Patterns


Empirical work



12.1 Architectural aspects


History of Axeltorv

12.2 Body Language


Empirical work

12.3 The Matter of Proxemics


Semiotics & Models of Communication


Further research


Semiotics of Body Language


Alternative models of Communication




Application of Models of Communication and Semiotics 15.


12.0 Discussion


Architectural Analysis of Axeltorv and Amagertorv


Interpretation of Social Interaction in Amagertorv.


Observations of Social Interaction


Body Language




Source Criticism


Summary in Danish

10.0 Interpretation of Social Interaction in Axeltorv. 10.1. Observations of Social Interaction 10.2 Body Language 10.3 Proxemics

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1.0) Introduction

discussion of the properties of these shared spaces is therefore necessary in order for one to gain a complete overview on the study of social interaction. In addition, it has

It is human nature to interact. Human beings interact with each other on a daily basis,

been argued that the proxemic behaviour 4 of an individual varies from one culture to

and many do so on a subconscious level. They do this with little or no concrete

another. As such, this piece of research also includes an investigation of the influence of

awareness of what their actions and those of others around them signify and imply.

cultural variations (on an urban / countryside base of comparison) upon interaction in


shared spaces.

Phenomena such as these are what have inspired us to take a deeper look into the

trends/study of social interaction in the modern day society.

There is growing interest in the function and significance of body language as a process

1.1) Problem definition

central to human interaction. In today’s modern society, a fair deal of emphasis is placed upon the question of self image and other popular topics such as the significance of physical appearance as factors that can be explicative of the process of social interaction. Our aim is to gain more insight into human interaction, focusing in brevity on body language and proxemics as a subset of this process. Many researchers point out that in the process of social interaction, words alone do not provide a solid indication of the entire picture and that body language and proxemics plays a key if not unrecognized role

This project aims to investigate how a shared space influences interaction between people. The influence of architectural dynamics is one of great importance when investigating social interaction in a shared space. A discussion of different forms of architecture and planning of two public spaces has been conducted in order to examine how this can change the norms of the space. Different cultural trends and patterns must also be taken into account when analyzing the interaction of people in a shared space.

in the discourse. 2

Another aspect of social interaction is the role of shared spaces in which this interaction

1.2) Research questions

takes place. Therefore it is significant to consider whether the architectural and spatial dynamics of public spaces have some sort of identifiable effect on interaction within

What is a shared space and how is it expressed through its architecture?

them. Different behavioral discourses are related to different types of shared spaces, whether or not these discourses take place as a conscious or inadvertent process. 3 A

In what ways are body language and proxemics expressed in shared spaces and does this differ from a given public space in a city to a given public space in a countryside

1 2 3

Charles Darwin: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872 Borg, John. Body Language: 7 Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language. Prentice Hall life, 2008 et al ^ Lefebvre, Henri The Production of Space, Blackwell 1991, ISBN 0631181776. p. 59

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Proxemics is the study of set measurable distances between people as they interact, Hall, Edward T. (1966). The Hidden

Dimension. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-08476-5

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town ?

approach this project is by looking into the social interaction between human beings.

In what way does architecture influence social interaction in a shared space?

and proxemics into the picture. There is plenty of relevant methodology from the

Due to our focus on social interaction we have brought in the aspects of body language

dimension of text & sign that can be applied to the interpretation of the aforementioned Which norms are connected to a shared space and why?

concepts. In this regard, we intend to apply Roman Jakobson’s model of communication, and Pierce’s triadic system to our investigation. The application of the aforesaid models

1.3) Motivation

has been done in a rather specific fashion in this project, whereby we have adapted aspects of relevance from both models to specific contexts within the scope of our

Our common interest in this project is to explore how the architecture and settings of a

research. In other words these models focus rather emphatically on symbolism and

shared space influence social interactions. We would like to investigate how and why

semiotics in verbal and more often, with respect to written texts. We have, however,

people interact with other people and what role cultural differences play in these

adapted some of their propositions (in particular the notion of “sign”) to the context of

interactions. By looking at body language and proxemics we will be studying

communication via body language and to the study of proxemics. The aspect of body

intercommunications / interactions and hopefully get a better understanding of basic

language, a key component of human communication is covered rather well within the

human communication. The purpose of investigating this matter is to gain more

course of our research by elements of the text and sign dimension due to its postural /

awareness of how we, ourselves, interact with other people in shared spaces and thereby

non-verbal property which in essence allows it to be classified as a contextual process.

obtain a better understanding of human interactions in general. Cultural encounters:

1.4) Dimensions

This project is an attempt at comparing and contrasting two different cultures within Denmark, a town in the countryside, Næstved and the nation’s capital city, Copenhagen.

This assignment covers two dimensions of the basic studies in humanities program namely Text & Sign and Cultural Encounters

This very fact in itself implies a direct and fairly logical interest in the dimension of cultural encounters. Cultural encounters focuses on the concept of cultural identities. As such, one can use this dimension to analyze the cultural variations between the two urban centres that we will be comparing. This in turn will enable us to gain a more

Text and Sign: This dimension deals with the different aspects within text and Sign. One way to

concrete understanding of how these differences are represented through the manner in which interaction takes place in each urban centre. It’s important to stress that our focus is on cultural variations within Denmark (as opposed to cultural variations on a country

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to country scale)

study of measurable distances between people as they interact, a concept pioneered by Edward Hall that’s loosely hinged on the work of German zoologist Heini Heidger. 5

1.5) Methodology The following theories have been used in this project, though it’s important to note that The writing of this project draws its structural framework from two principle

we may have included additional theories:

standpoints. I)

Edward T. Hall’s model on Personal reaction bubbles, 1956

Empirical work (Fieldwork in the form of observation)


Allan Pease’s zonal theory (an elaboration of Hall’s personal reaction bubbles)

Secondary research (Analysis of existent theory relevant to our study objectives)


Roman Jakobsen’s model of communication


Charles Sanders Peirce’s triadic sign theory

Our empirical work has entailed an observation of human interaction in selected shared


Kevin Lynch and his philosophy of the mental thoughts behind the construction

spaces, namely Copenhagen’s Amagertorv and Næstved’s Axeltorv. The deductions we

and planning of urban design and architecture

have arrived at have been drawn partly from observations on our part and partly from


video recordings filmed at the sites under discussion. Audio comments used in the

VII) Henri Lefebvre – His theories on studies of social norms and shared space.

Alexander R. Cuthbert - His work and studies about genders in architecture

filming process representing our own views and thoughts have been omitted in order to preserve more objectivity and to create consistency between our textual descriptions of

1.6 Delimitation

our video footage and the happenings within this footage. Repetitive visits to the shared spaces under investigation were made with the purpose of increasing the likelihood of

Vast subjects such as social interaction, behavior in public spaces have many varied

tangible trends germane to the scope of our research being identified. Additionally, the

aspects that one can analyse and discuss in considerable depth. Such expansive topics

basic underlying conditions (weather, time of visit etc…) at our research sites were

had to be shortened so that the scope of the investigation could be clear, accessible and

different upon each visit and this again aids the construction of as neutral and as

not too dispersive. Narrowing down our research aims entailed the elimination of a few

objective an analysis as possible

factors that may well have proven to be influential to the overall outcomes of our observations had we chosen to account for them in more profundity. A list of the

The theories that we have decided to employ in the writing of this project are based

principle factors that were not discussed in as much depth as other factors we considered

principally on the concepts of proxemics and communication. Proxemics is simply the


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, Hall, Edward T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-08476-5

of more relevance to our research follows:

fascinating if not valid angle of research. However, exploration of this issue would transform the scope of our work into a completely different concept to that we intended

– Culture ( no cross-border comparison was conducted insofar as our research was

to investigate.

limited to a local basis of comparison ) – History and technology

Our forays into the effect of culture upon proxemics and body language have also been

– Gender in spaces (This is in term of gender interaction)

limited inasmuch as this project not focusing on issues such as the religious affiliation

– Religion (the expression of religion in shared spaces, it’s role in semiotics / behavioral

and ethnic makeup of the subjects used for our analysis. In this concern, cross-border

trends was omitted from our research)

cultural observations have been omitted, however useful and easy to identify and

– Age (little or no emphasis was placed on the effect of age upon the scope of our

employ in our research they be or may not be.

research) – Engagement through events (Alteration of norms related to social interaction in shared

The role and significance of human social interaction on a historical scale is also briefly

spaces by interventionary events has not been covered)

explored but perhaps could have been researched in more depth. It could have been

– Literacy (i.e. education of subjects filmed did not factor into our observations)

interesting to examine how social interaction has developed and changed through

– Technological advancement

centuries and how the past is expressed in the trends of present day human interaction.

As such, this project hasn’t focused on the influence the personal background and

2.0) Shared Space

attributes (factors such as age, gender and literacy) of the individuals analysed plays in the manner in which they interact with each other. Whilst architectural dynamics play a

What is a Shared Space?

pivotal role in the process of human interaction, our treatment of the subject has zeroed in on what effect (s) specific forms of urban planning and architecture have upon social

An adequate understanding of the findings and evaluations of this project hinges in

interaction, as opposed to an exploration of architecture and architectural dynamics as a

considerable depth upon the comprehension of what space is. As such, a basic

whole. Moreover, this piece of research has not investigated the influence of technology

comprehension of the fundamental properties of this concept is crucial. In similar vein, it

plays on people’s interaction. Media and modern mass communication in today’s

is important to distinguish between the concept of space and that of place.

globalised world have a huge impact on how humans socialize and connect with each other and as such, an observation of how technological development that could aid the evolution and effect of media and modern mass communication could indeed be a

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feature patterns. However, some territorial boundaries can vary and are thus classified as semi fixed-features.

The Oxford English dictionary describes space as a continuous area or expanse which is

Semi fixed-feature space

free, available, or unoccupied. 6

This space contains movable objects, like mobile furniture, while fixed-furniture is a fixed-feature.

This space can either be absolute (i.e. a distinct, real and objective space) or relative (i.e.

Informal space.

space as perceived by a particular individual or society) Space is a rather abstract notion

This space contains the individual space around the body, travels around with it,

in that it adheres to no fixed geometrical classifications. On a biological basis however,

determining the personal distance among people. It contains spatial patterns that form

it may be argued that space is a universal construct which all humans view in the same

distances that are for the most part outside awareness. 8

light. Notwithstanding, the perception of the concept of space varies from one culture to another and therein different societies use space in different fashions, technologically,


artistically and practically, a postulation that is supported by the research of E. Sapir and B. Whorf as well as by the philosophies of Henri Lefebvre. 7 Spatial use is hence the

Space, it is argued is not an autonomous notion in that it has some sort of relationship to

fundament upon which societies construct both formal entities such as enumeration

time. 9 Hence, human activities and actions occur within the space-time continuum.

districts and informal structures such as neighborhoods. Shared space is therefore an

Whilst this frame remains an unalterable constant in that space and time are constants,

area or expanse that is to be shared by those who frequent such a space. The population

the subject of place is one that can be changed and even tailored by human activity. This

density of a particular space is a key factor in determining the dynamics of the sharing

is a view supported by Tuan who describes space as a notion akin to a blank sheet of

that takes place with that space. The manner by which man interacts with the space he

paper upon which meaning may be imposed. Enclosed and humanized space can therein

finds himself in concerns itself with the classification of 3 fundamental classifications of

be defined as place. This holds true with respect to the definition of place as being an

types of space.

area with definite or indefinite boundaries; a portion of space. 10 These boundaries are

Fixed-feature space

what Lefebvre refers to in his descriptions of “bounded space” a reference to the notion

This space contains objects that are immobile, such as walls and territorial boundaries. It

of place inasmuch as the concept fulfils the condition of it being an area of definite or

includes material manifestations as well as the hidden, internalized designs that govern behavior as man moves about on this earth. Buildings are one expression of fixed6 Oxford Online English Dictionary : 7

8 Setha M. Low and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga (2003). The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 61–62. ISBN 0631228780. 9 D. Massey (Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 24 271) 10

Oxford Online English Dictionary :

H. Lefebvre The Production Of Space (1974, English pub. 1991)

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indefinite boundaries. One can therefore conclude that space is a concept with infinite

3.1) Definition of Body Language

bounds whilst place is concept with finite ones. Consequently, it can be argued that space becomes place as soon as bounds of some sort or other are introduced, for instance

The Russian theatre director, Constantin Stanislavsky once heralded body language as

if a specific function or purpose is implemented within a space. As such, places can be

being “the key that can unlock the soul.” On a more practical basis, body language can

constructed and cultivated within the bounds of the functional purpose intended.

be defined as the gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental, or emotional states and communicates nonverbally with others. 12

. The role and importance of body language in everyday situations has become

3.0) Social Interaction

highlighted in recent years, as studies in the field of humanities and more specifically within the spectrum of linguistics continue to develop. Body language is in fact a

Interaction by definition can be elucidated as the direct effect of one kind or particle upon another.


This definition holds true with respect to the communicational

central if not crucial component of communication within society, a role that hasn’t as of yet been prioritized over verbal communication, the basis upon which the process of

exchanges between people in shared spaces, where people take the form of particles (i.e.

most conversations and communicational exchanges is constructed, at least as far as

entities) within the aforementioned definition. The effects people have on each other in

intentional communication is concerned. Leading researchers in the field of

their interaction in shared spaces aren’t processes of speech / verbal acts alone, but

anthropology have repeatedly stressed the influence of body language in the

rather a system of complex, intertwined linguistic patterns expressed through body

communication process, asserting that together with paralinguistic cues it accounts for

language, eye contact, facial expressions and so on. The nature of the public spaces

up to 93 per cent body of this process whilst only 7% of communicational processes

analyzed in this project is rather self explanatory. In the case of public spaces (as

consist of words alone. 13 The intentional communication referred to previously refers to

opposed to private spaces), the shared spaces in question impose a great deal of external

communication that is deliberately, consciously explicitly intended for a specific

influences upon those who find themselves within them and as such relations between

purpose, both from the perspective of the person sending the message and from the point

individuals interacting within the space can be assumed to be, as a rule of thumb,

of view of the receiver. Body language is in fact, in most cases, a non-intentional form

interpersonal. Such interpersonal relationships favour communication on a basis other

of communication inasmuch as it is an involuntary phenomenon and thereby a process

than verbal discourse, such as via body language, expressed in most cases as an

that is less easy to control than verbal communicational processes. To reiterate, body

involuntary process characterised by a series of identifiable classifiable signals.

language has been said to constitute the majority of the communicational processes between human beings, a view that is held by many within the field of linguistics. It is 12


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13 Borg, John. Body Language: 7 Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language. Prentice Hall life, 2008

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worth mentioning however that due to the fact that body language is not expressed as

chief focus of our research leans more towards proxemics (see section 3.4)

overtly nor as clearly as verbal communication, determining its exact role and significance in communicational processes is somewhat difficult and hence a matter of

Like any communicational process, body language can be expressed in a donative as

intense debate in anthropological circles. The research of the American professor of

well as in a receptive fashion depending on a number of factors. Furthermore, the exact

psychology Albert Mehrabian ,for instance, supports the suggestion of body language

manner in which body language is expressed hinges on a number of variables within the

constituting the majority of the communication process, proposing that the total impact

environment or more specifically within the context under which interaction takes place.

of a message is about 7 per cent verbal (words only) 38 per cent of it is vocal (including

These variables include factors such as climate, crowding (and the concurrent responses

tone of voice, inflection and other sounds) and 55 per cent of it is non-verbal. 14 This is a

to it,) architecture (discussed in section 4,) and spatial dynamics (also covered in section

viewpoint seconded by the work of kinesics expert, Ray L. Birdwhistell who estimated

4.) Other aspects that could factor in include time related variables (time of month /

that the average person actually only speaks for a total of about ten or eleven minutes a

week / year etc.) and climatic dynamics (e.g. temperature extremes) The role of social

day and that the average sentence takes only about two and a half seconds. 15 Like

aspects such as cultural rules, language, laws, accords and so on are also highly

Mehrabian, Birdwhistell’s conclusions propose that the better part of communication

influential to the concept of body language.

between people takes place on a non-verbal basis.

3.2) Theories of Body Language The field of body language is rather expansive and highly detailed. Our research doesn’t delve into such significant detail on the topic, focusing instead on interaction between people as a whole. Body language in the context of this project is therein merely a subset of the aforementioned interaction process, a sub-component of the discussions pertaining to territory and proxemics that will be elaborated upon in the following section. Where possible, basic body gestures that have been said to exhibit specific intentions will be examined later on in this document albeit in an abstract fashion, as the 14 15

Allan Pease : ”Body Language” Camel publishing company 1981 Ray L Birdwhistell: Introduction to kinesics ,an annotation system for analysis of body motion and gesture

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3.3) Proxemics

activities thus also playing a key role in the dynamics of spacing. 17 Spacing in this context refers to the observable, measurable distances two members of a species

Social Interaction in Animals

maintain from each other in the course of their interaction. Heidiger identifies the presence of the following distances within the spectrum of animal relations:

The interaction of humans in shared spaces can be linked to comparative studies of animal interaction in spaces. Studies of animal interaction are rather useful in this

Flight distance: The distance that a wild animal will allow a man or other potential

regard as they can easily be conducted over the scale of several animal generations and

enemy to approach before it flees

as many animals don’t rationalise their behaviour, it is safe to assume that a degree of

Critical distance: The narrow space between flight distance from attack distance

consistency exists with respect to their reaction to specific stimuli. Behavioural trends can therefore be charted and used as a framework from which to analyse human

Heidiger also cites one of the most baffling dichotomies of the natural world, namely

behaviour albeit on a purely fundamental basis explicatory inasmuch as interaction

that of contact and non contact species. Contact species are those that huddle together

within species is concerned as opposed to specific interactional features and processes

and require physical contact which other (such as Emperor Penguins) whilst non-contact

that are directly and indisputably linked to the human race. The extension of population

species are those that completely avoid touching (such as rats.) Within the context of

biology and evolutionary theory to social organisation is known as sociobiology, 16and

interaction between non-contact species, Heideger proposes the existence of two central

whilst it does have its merits, in many respects, it’s vital that one considers the unique

spacing distances, namely

attributes of the human race that differentiates it from some characterestics that can be

Personal Distance (The spacing that non-contact animals maintain between themselves

applied to describe the nature of all species.

and their fellows) Social Distance (The distance that an animal maintains to the rest of the herd, flock,

As far back as 1920, ornithologists such as H.E Howard began to classify basic concepts

group etc‌)

within the field of animal behaviour. One of the concepts explored by his work was that of the abstraction of territoriality. The concept of territoriality within a species is,

Crowding & The development of sinks

according to the animal psychologist, H. Hediger a central regulatory feature for the species in question. Hediger is of the notion that territoriality regulates density within a

The effect of higher population density upon the behavioural trends of animal species is

species and as such provides a frame / context within which the species carries out its

an issue that has been extensively investigated and elaborated upon over the last century. The experiments of the ethologist John Calhoun on rats in the late fifties provide the


Wilson, E.O. (1978) On Human Nature, Cambridge, Ma: Harvard

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Edward T. Hall: The Hidden Dimension, 1966

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basis for many of the crowding theories zoologists and anthropologists alike have come

natural environment may not be as dramatic or certainly not as pronounced as the

to defend in this day and age. Calhoun’s research strived towards creating a situation

responses expressed by animal populations, it can be argued that the simple of notion of

within which it would be possible to observe the behavioural patterns of several wild

there being a direct link between crowding and behavioural trends in human populations

Norwegian rats in a quarter-acre outdoor enclosure from 1947 on at any given time.

holds true. The effects of crowding on interactional processes between members of any

Despite having unlimited food supplies and in the absence of predators, the population

given species is therefore an occurrence that can be applied in a sociobiological context

of rats never exceeded 200 individuals and stabilized at 150. The rats could in fact have

to the specific case of human interaction, as many parallels can be said to exist between

had up to 50,000 offspring over the course of Calhoun’s research yet available space

the effects of crowding in human populations and the consequences of the same in

would not have accommodated such a figure. Whenever the population of rats within

animal populations.

the colony increased to a point at which the colony could be described as being crowded, the sex mores of the rats were disrupted and pansexuality and sadism were endemic.

These basic reductions of animal behaviour form the backbone upon which the

Social behaviour amongst the male members of the population was also altered, such

assumptions with regard to spacing amongst humans that we have decided to structure

that fighting and fatal tail biting broke out. All in all a stressful if not chaotic state of

this document on are hinged. The distance dynamics as concerns man and his spacing to

affairs came into existence, a feature that Calhoun proposed was a natural regulatory

his fellow being is a topic with roots in the research of Edward T. Hall.

mechanism that ensured the survival of the species by maintaining population levels at a level that ensured that competition for resources wasn’t excessive. This regulatory mechanism became known as a sink and has been said to exist within numerous species on the planet, including the human race, a fact that is underscored by the outbreaks of endemic diseases such as the plague (which took place within the context of a dense, poorly-planned urban environment) and the general stressful patterns of urban areas in this day and age. 18 One can therefore hypothesise the existence of a direct link between the density of an animal population and the interactional trends within it. In this regard, the relationship between man and the space he moves in can be also said to be influenced by population density, and more specifically by the crowding within his immediate environment. Whilst it is fair to say that the effects of crowding within mans 18

John B. Calhoun, "Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population" Proc. roy. Soc. Med. Volume 66 January 1973, pp80-88

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Proxemic Distances in Man

The distinction between the proxemic distances in animals as described by Heidger and those as concerns humans is that in animals, two distances are said to exist (namely the

Some thirty inches from my nose

flight distance and the critical distance whilst in human beings, four distances are said to

The frontier of my Person goes,

exist. Flight distance and critical distance it seems fair to say, have disappeared from the

And all the untilled air between

reactionary mechanisms of mankind and personal and social distance form the backbone

Is private pagus or demesne.

of social interactions within the human race. One easily accessible source of

Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes

information that supports Hall’s distance theories with respect to humans has roots in the

I beckon you to fraternize,

work of George Trager. In cooperation with the linguist, George Trager, Hall started to

Beware of rudely crossing it:

observe changes in voice in relation to different proxemic distances and settings.

I have no gun, but I can spit.

Bearing in mind whispering is the volume used in very short distances and shouting in long distances, Trager and Hall posed the question as to how many vocal shifts existed

W.H. Auden

between the two spatial extremes 21. Their research led to the assertion of the existence of


eight different proxemic distances in man. However, further investigations of people

The Birth of Architecture<<

interacting in social situations led Hall to the conclusion that eight different proxemic distances were in fact too many as they were too complex and too intertwined to make

How many proxemic distances do people have and how do we differ between them?

sense of and that four distances were actually enough. He terms these four distances as

What is it that sets one particular distance apart from another?19 These are a couple of


the questions that the biological anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher Edward T.


Intimate distance

Hall asks in his book “The Hidden Dimension,” questions for which there are no direct


Personal distance

nor easy to come by responses. Hall’s pursuit for answers to these queries formed the


Social distance

backbone of his work in proxemics and his consequent definition of the word in 1966.


Public distance

Proxemics is exploration of a set of measurable distances between people as they interact.20 As mentioned in section 3.2 these proxemic distances can also be found in the

Each of the aforementioned distances is subdivided into a close phase and a far phase.

animal world and have been classified by the German zoologist Heini Heidger.

Hall himself states that the naming of these distances was made after lengthy

19 20

Edward T. Hall: the hidden dimension 1966. Page 107. Edward T. Hall: the hidden dimension 1966.

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1966 page. 108.

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Edward T. Hall: The Hidden Dimension .

consideration and contemplation, influenced to a significant degree by the work of Heidger. 22


The Four Distances

Before describing the four distances it's important to be mindful of the fact that the distances can vary in terms of people's personalities or the surroundings that people find

The Intimate Distance.

themselves in. In the intimate distance, the presence of the other person is unmistakable and at times even overwhelming. This is mainly due to the fact that sensory inputs are significantly enhanced within this distance. Sight is often distorted due to the proximity of one individual to another, olfactory sensations are sharp and enable for one to discern a wide range of scents given off by others and body heat emitted by others is also detectable within this proxemic distance. This leads to highly intimate interaction between one body and another, and concurrently has been described as the zone in which lovers and close friends can roam freely. 23

Close phase (less than 15 cm) This distance is known to feature eroticism, comfort, and protection. Hall talks of distance as being the phase where physical contact is at its highest. This use of physical contact is present in the mind of both parties. Muscle, pelvic, thigh and close facial communication constitute the peak of physical contact, giving rise to communicational exchanges such as kisses, embraces and so on. Vision in this phase is akin to that of newborn babies, infants and young children, whose field of sight and more specifically the ability to focus is impaired by their use of periphery vision. The detailed layout of features and objects viewed from such close proximity is stimulated rather extensively by the retina in such a way that objects that are outside of the direct field of vision are 22

Edward T. Hall: The Hidden Dimension. 1966 page. 110.

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Edward T. Hall: The Hidden Dimension. 1966 page. 110.

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excluded. Furthermore, the use of vocal sounds is be extremely limited since the

behaviour” characterised by use of the intimate distance in public on the part of lovers.26

communicative process mainly is carried principally out by other channels.24

This begs the question, what ought one do when forced to stand close to another person in any given situation such as on a bus or in a train? Public transport imposes

Far phase (15 to 46 cm)

circumstantial bounds that force people to break into each others intimate distances, irrespective of whether or not they know each other. In this regard, Hall points out that

This phase entails there not being any direct contact between the head, thighs and pelvis

human beings have certain defense mechanisms that we use to “cleanse” public intimate

despite them all being within grasping-distance. The head appears magnified and facial

spaces of any intimacy. The normal tactic is to stay as still as possible and move

expressions are distorted, so much so that the nose can appear to be oversized and

whenever the body comes into contact with other people. If this isn't possible, a person

distorted. The same is true of the appearance the lips, teeth and tongue. Hall makes a

will tend to keep the muscles frozen and tense in certain parts of the body. The same is

remark concerning this phase, when he speaks of Americans experiencing how

true of people standing in elevators. In this situation people have a tendency to stand

unwelcome foreigners penetrates this intimate sphere. He mentions that it is expressed

totally still and fixate their gaze endlessly and intensely upon specific objects, straying

through this distortion of the visual system. One of the individuals Hall used in his

only fleetingly to glance at the other people sharing the elevator.27 It is worth keeping in

proxemic research stated the following at a certain point during a particular interview :

mind that Hall’s observations were based on an American sample population and thus

“These people get so close, you're cross-eyed. It really makes me nervous. They put their

their relevance in a cross-cultural context needs to be considered as they are not

face so close it feels like they're inside you”25 This illustrates the discomfort many

necessarily universal traits and tendencies that manifest themselves in any given culture.

people may feel when their intimate distance is encroached upon, unwittingly or deliberately as the case may be. At a certain point within this distance intense optical

Personal distance:

focus becomes impossible, prompting an uncomfortable sensation in the eye-muscles, which occurs as a result of focusing on an object that is extremely close to the eye. This

The best way to describe this distance in a simple manner is to attach the concept of it

distance also entails that vocal levels are at a low, minimal volume.

being akin to a small personal bubble or protective sphere, which an organism maintains

At 15 – 45 cm distance vocal communication is put to use albeit in a very limited

between itself and others.28

capacity such that only a whisper or very low vocal tonality is heard. Hall mentions the notion of certain segments of middle class America taking offence to “improper

Close phase (46 to 76 cm)

26 24 25

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“Closeness” is usually determined by what can be done with the arms and legs when

The expression “to keep someone at arm's length” is one way expressing the far phase of

one human being is placed next to another. At this distance one can hold or grasp

the personal distance. This is the last distance in which it is possible for one to touch and

another human being and there is no longer an unclear visual of the other person. There

/or dominate other human beings. This is also the distance within which it is possible to

is however, a perceptible amount of feedback from the eye muscles. A 15 degree tilt-

discuss subjects of personal interest or indeed subjects that one may feel involved in. At

view of another individual’s upper or lower facial features reveals unusually sharp,

this proxemic distance, head size is perceived as normal and facial features are clear if

highly-enhanced imagery. At this distance, the appearance of the nose may somewhat

not poignant. Minute facial details such as skin flaws, discoloured teeth, spots, wrinkles,

elongated and the ears seem drawn back. More minute facial features are also seen in

blemishes and so on are visible but only ever so slightly. This distance also entails that

more detail. These include finer facial hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes and skin pores. In

the eye has to wonder from body part to body part in order to look at the entire object

addition, at this distance, the three-dimensional quality of objects is significantly

and thus gain perspective 31. Hall makes an interesting remark with regard to this, stating

enhanced. This implies that facial structure is more pronounced and detailed at this

that “where the eye is directed is strictly a matter of cultural conditioning”. 32

distance than it is at any other proxemic distance. The placement of individuals alongside each other at this distance is a reflection of the relationship they have to each

Vocal audio levels at this distance are very moderate and body heat is not perceived.

other and also of their inner emotions. 29

Again, Hall tells us that when it comes to smell it depends on culture. Indeed in some cultures it is popular to create an air-bubble of scent with help from eau de cologne or

Hall hypothesizes that at this distance a married woman can stay within her husband’s

perfume. Moreover, whilst in some cultures the odour of ones breath is analyzed and

close personal distance without causing any offense. However, if another woman enters

interpreted as part of the normal, day-to-day discourse between one human being and

the husbands close personal distance it's an entirely different story30. One can therefore

another, in other cultures, for instance within modern day America, people are raised to

conclude that if A, the spouse of B enters the close personal distance of B this would not

direct their breath away from people33.

be considered offensive, but if person C, a stranger, enters the same distance of either, this may be considered as an abnormal act. The applicability of this conclusion to

Social distance

modern day society is however somewhat dubious owing to the fact that Hall’s research on the matter was based on subjects from the 1950’s.

The limit between the far phase of the personal distance and the close phase of the social distance is referred to as the “limit of dominance”. The intimate visual details of the face

Far phase (76 to 120 cm)

are not perceived and there is no contact or expectations of contact with another human, 31

29 30

Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 113. Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 113.

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32 33

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unless one makes a special effort to make contact. Sound levels at this distance are said

“stand away so I can look at you”. Business and social discourse that is conducted at the

to be normal. The close and far phase of this proxemic distance display similarities as

far end of the social distance has a more formal character than if it occurs inside the

regards vocal tones, levels and patterns. In this regard, conversations can be heard up to

close phase. In fact, some workplaces deliberately ensure that office desks are large and

and including a distance of about 6m. 34

superimposed in such a way that they can keep people who visit at a distance matching that of the far phase. 37At this far phase many of the small details in the face such as

Close phase (1.2 to 2.1 m)

intra-eye markings are virtually unobservable. Notwithstanding, all details concerning

At this proxemic distance, head size can be elucidated as normal. Eye movement away

colour, hair, teeth and clothes are easily seen. Hall mentions that none of his test-persons

from any given person in optical focus allows for a more total / complete view of this

said anything about body-heat and smell as being significant and this distance. All of the

person. Hall mentions specific eye movements that people tend to make when engaged

body and a great part of the surrounding space can be perceived at a panorama of 60

in conversation at this distance, stating that many Americans move their gaze from eye

degrees. Another aspect that changes at this distance is the focus point in the face (as an

to eye or from eyes to mouth. 35 Complexion and taint- related details are clear and

entire object.) As mentioned before people move their gaze from eye to eye or eye to

easily observable owing to the optical frame’s perspective on the entire body, as opposed

mouth. At this point however, the eyes and mouth of the person in front are in full view.

to on specific parts. People working together tend to interact within the close social

This means that it is no longer necessary for one to shift one’s gaze to different focal

proxemic distance. This is also a very common distance between people who are

points in the face. At this phase it is more crucial to maintain visual contact than at other

gathered at random social gatherings. To stand and look down on people sitting at this

distances.38 Which of course makes sense, in terms of the fact that the more physical

distance has a dominating effect which can be observed when a man talks to his assistant

contact and control one looses the more important it is to maintain visual control. The

or secretary36. Here again one comes across another example of Hall using outdated

individual therefore becomes more dependent on a singular sense (vision) so to speak.

references. If one were to draw a parallel between his example and modern day trends, it

Proxemic behaviour of this nature is highly determined by culture and is completely

may be worth considering applying the same way of thinking albeit in a less

random. To avoid looking at another person is to exclude him or her from all

discriminating fashion.

conversation. This is why people talking at this distance do everything within their power to maintain visual contact. In open space, there may be a tendency to over-stress

Far phase (2.1 to 3.7 m)

neck-muscles in order to keep other people in view by trying to block all obstacles in the way of the line of sight.39

This is the distance that has been commonly associated with the everyday expression

A proxemic trademark that can be observed at social distance (far phase) is that it can be



35 36

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38 39

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used to isolate and shield people from each other. It allows one to continue to work in

Thirty feet is usually the distance that is automatically set around important public

the presence of another person without appearing to be rude. Receptionists working in

figures. An example on this can be seen when presidents make speeches.

offices are particularly vulnerable in this respect as most employees expect double duty execution on their part; answering questions, being polite to callers, as well as typing.

3.5) Cultural Considerations

The same is true for husbands. Hall says that husbands returning from work often find themselves sitting and relaxing reading the paper at ten or more feet from their wives,

The manner in which people use space and therein the fashion by which they interact

for at this distance a couple can engage each other briefly and disengage at will.

with each other depends on a great many factors. Cultural settings play a fundamental role in this respect, as the work of many anthropologists has shown over the years.

Public distance

Edward T. Hall has in fact suggested that the dynamics of interactional processes between people is distinctly different from one culture to another. The work of the

Several important sensory shifts occur in the transition from the personal and social

aforementioned researcher in the field of proxemics is therefore merely a guideline to

distances to public distance, which is well outside the circle of involvement.

the subject as a whole, based on the mean and collated results of a survey based on the reactions of a specific number of people. That notwithstanding, Hall’s research remains

Close phase

the principle basis by which proxemics are analysed and it is fair to state that more

At twelve feet it is possible for a person to take evasive or defensive action if threatened.

culture-specific proxemics models ought to have been developed in order to account for

Vocal audio at this distance is loud but at not full-volume. Linguists have observed that a

the limitations of his work. One can therefore hypothesise that Hall’s work within

careful choice of words and phrasing of specific sentences as well as grammatical or

proxemics could indeed be relevant to a specific case (such as the research carried out in

syntactic shifts occurs at this phase40. At this distance the fine details in the face and in

this project) yet at the same time, it is worth considering other factors that could yield

the eyes are no longer visible. At about sixteen feet the body begins to lose its

variations in the fashion by which people interact with each other. Halls own words on

“roundness” or three dimensional appearance as it were and starts to appear more flat.

the matter are that his descriptions “ represent only a first approximation and that it

The colour of the eye begins to be unperceivable such that only the whites of the eyes

should be emphasized that these generalisations are not representative of human

are visible.41

relations in general or even of American behaviour in general- but only of the group included in the sample. Negroes and Spanish Americans as well as people who come

Far phase 40 41

Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 117. Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 117.

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from Southern European cultures have very different proxemic patterns” 42 It could be


Edward T. Hall: The Hidden Dimension, 1966 page 110

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argued hence that the proxemic patterns we identify in the shared spaces examined in

surroundings that they find themselves in and says that a loud level of noise or

this document may have very different and disparate trends and that these differences

dampened illumination will bring people closer together and therefore change the

could be directly linked to the governing cultures within the spaces in question. It’s vital

pattern in which they behave.45 This is of course important to have in mind when

to consider that the shared spaces examined over the course of writing this project are

looking upon how architecture influences the way we act. The place that we find

part and parcel of the same overreaching predominant culture (i.e. Danish culture.)

ourselves in might indeed play a bigger role than we know in terms of how we interact

Notwithstanding, one can identify a sub-culture or even clusters of sub-cultures within a

with other as human beings.

culture, each with its own distinct cultural dynamics. Based on these premises one might therefore argue that Næstved and Copenhagen have their own distinct culture and


Social Space versus Shared Space

that this may be expressed in the interactional patterns, proxemics, architecture, spatial dynamics and so on within spaces and places in these cities. Focusing on Amagertorv in Copenhagen (city setting) and Axeltorv in Næstved (countryside town setting,) this part of the paper aims to investigate in some depth the

4.0) Architectural Influence on Social Interaction in a Shared Space

differences one may find, according the social space and the shared space, based on the observations that has been made and accounted for in part 6 and 7 in this paper.

“The architect does more than just design the building: he or she shapes the activity that goes on in it and the community around it, (Desley Luscombe) 43

When considering the theories put forth by Edward T. Hall one frequently comes across him stating that at some point that one can interlink specific sets of relations and activities with the way people behave.44 This assertion falls under the chapter of his

The French sociologist, intellectual and philosopher Henri Lefebvre encourages the consideration of the city as a space which is fashioned, shaped and invested in by social activities during a historical period, which is under a continuous development. Cities have been created by people and in some ways the constant development of the cities cam be seen as a never ending work of art. 46

postulations concerning room dynamics. Hall talks about sequences of acquired

If we go back in history one finds that many ancient civilizations had different kinds of

situation-personalities, stating that some people never develop the official phase of their

cultural locations that were used in the matter of organising social space. For instance,

situational personality and therefore cannot fill out public space. He observes that with

the Greeks had the agora, the theatre, the polis and the stadium. More often than not it

regard to the four distances, people’s differences in personality can vary in terms of the 45

43 44

Urban design:


Edward T. Hall “The Hidden Dimension” 1966. Henri Lefebvre: The production of Space, 1974, page 74

Edward T. Hall “The hidden dimension” 1966.

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was architects who designed the buildings and spaces.47When one examines the subject

the same way. A reason for this could be the fact that the person in the store will get

of how architecture influences social interaction in a shared space, one may find

salary whether or not he or she sells you anything.

coherence in the fact, that we as humans at that time created social spaces and gathered around with a certain purpose, such as going to the agora.

Whilst interacting in a shared space the concept of social space appears throughout. In fact, the social space which (or personal space as it were) plays a pivotal role in the

Nowadays, social interaction has become more of an instinctive manner of interaction.

interaction process. This space can be said to provide an environmental framework for

We still have marketplaces such as the weekly ones in NĂŚstvedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Axeltorv on Saturdays,

the behaviour of a group. With regard to the aforementioned assertion, one may find that

but its scale, function and purpose cannot be compared with that of the agora in ancient

settings within the shared space play a key role in determining the outcome of the

Greece. Because of the changes in terms of production, economy and the way we as

interactions happening in the social space.

humans deal with business when it comes to exchanging goods and services, the concept of a marketplace now differs a lot from that of the agora. Hence, as a consequence of the

4.2) The social norms associated with shared spaces

changes in consumer society, the concept of a marketplace has changed. In this respect, in this day and age, the modern shopping mall can be seen as an extension of the

Interaction in shared spaces needs to be comprehended hand in hand with the concept of


social norms. As social beings humans create and evolve norms to reduce the risk of the unpredictability of different sorts of behaviour. People create some kind of conventional

Back in the day people may have been travelled for days to get to the agora. One may

set of rules according to the way one behaves. As such, as regards their surroundings

therefore assume that as a result, people tended to pay more attention to each other than

people are programmed in some what or other to know how to act to specific situations

they do in modern day situations. Whilst shopping at the market going from one stand to

and stimuli. It follows therefore that they behave and respond in a certain way when

another, one tends to experience interact with others in a personalised fashion. The fact

interacting with each other. One of the reasons why people accept norms is because they

that people had had been travelling intensively for days to get to this market to sell their

do not want to risk loosing self-respect by virtue of them deviating from the established

goods, an act which was imperative to their survival underlines the significance and

norms. Social norms grow out of social value and both serve to differentiate human

function of the agora on the whole. Today many walk into a store and may not even pay

social behaviour from that of other species. The set of norms one acquires in life are

the slightest attention to the person behind the counter, or vice versa. If we compare the

generally done so in the process of one growing up. Social norms are concepts that

marketplace versus a store, one may find that personal social interaction is not present in

empower human beings with the capacity of elaborate symbolic communication and are


therefore a way of structuring behaviour. Norms are the means through which values are


Alexander R. Cuthbert : The Form of Cities, p. 1, published 2006, p. 1

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expressed in behaviour. 49 Generally norms are the rules and regulations that groups live

Lefebvre writes about Leibniz’s thoughts regarding the necessity for the space to be

by. Many of the norms that we live by are learned informally, in interaction with other

‘occupied’ and to make this happen the space must be introduced to directions such as

people and are passed from generation to generation. A group of people featuring a

left and right or orientation of these axes. Leibniz does not believe that this espouses the

diverse number of individuals sets the rules of what a person should or should not do

‘subjectivity’ thesis according to what the observer and the measurer together represent,

and how a person should behave in various situations to contribute positively to other

i.e. the existing. His theory is built upon the fact that we use our body to occupy the

individuals in the group. By such virtue, norms may be defined by individuals and

space.54 When we interact we use our body as an object to show our present

societies’ as being crucial to the society.


surroundings our concept of social behaviour, according to our norms. The body as an object has several functions. It is used to indicate directions by a gesture, of defining

Considering that all human action can be drawn from any particular given trend or

rotations by turning round, of demarcating and of orientation in space. 55 If one considers

tendency to another to be meaningful, the spaces one resides in are replete with

the moving body based on the fact that it occupies the space, one may find coherence

symbolic values, celebration, conflicts, collective memory, association etc… all of

between how architectonics lead the moving body in a certain direction. This is the

which accentuate the fact that people breathe in and through space. 51

impact and influence of architecture on the moving body occupying the space.

But how then can we, if possible, define space? Space is not an object. It has no substance, no shape, no orientation, nor direction. One may ask: is space then incomprehensible? Leibniz calls it ‘indiscernible’. 52Lefebvre stresses that philosophers have for the most part taken the existence of an absolute space as a given. In similar vein, the content of space (e.g. figures, relations and proportions, numbers, and so on) has also been taken for granted somewhat. Keeping this in mind, Leibniz maintains that space ‘in itself’ is neither ‘nothing’ nor ‘something’. Leibniz goes on to point out that space is even less the totality of things or the form of their sum. For Leibniz space was certainly, the indiscernible. 53

49 50 51 52 53 Alexander R. Cuthbert : The Form of Cities, 2006 page 1 Henri Lefebvre: The production of space, 1974, page. 169 Henri Lefebvre: The production of space, 1974, page. 169

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54 55

Henri Lefebvre: The production of space, published 1974, p. 170 Henri Lefebvre: The production of space, published 1974, p. 170

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The Impact and Influence of Architecture

work, instead it is “ reversed, interrupted, abandoned, cut across and it is seen in all lights and weather.”61 This implies that, in a similar fashion to the perception of art, the aesthetic perception of the city is a very subjective affair. Lynch argues that nothing in a

A central element one has to understand, when dealing with cities is to the notion that

city is experienced by itself, but always in relation to something else. We relate certain

constant movement that takes place. Any given town or capital therefore is under

areas with memory and in our minds and in a way experience the city sequences.62 This

constant change as urban planners and other figures continually develop, expand and

means, that when building significant areas in a capital it is important that it is done in a

improve the dynamics of the city in question. 56

way, people will memorize, like a fountain, antique buildings or decorate pavements.

One of the earliest writing works of architecture is by the Roman architect Vitruvius,

This also makes the structure of a city essential. Lynch states in his book that all mobile

named De architectura. De architectura states that durability, utility and beauty are

animals63 want a sense a security and a feeling of “being on the right track”. He


important attributes of any significant architecture . Vitruvius was the first architect that

describes how the feeling of being “lost” would be the worst projection a city could

stressed that function is of great importance with respect to architecture, seconded in this

make64. Taking this to account, we could refer it to the reconstruction of Axeltorv in

assertion by gothic revival architects such as Augustus Welby Pugin who was also very

Næstved, in the summer of 2010. Many of the old elements, like pavements that differ

focused on functionalism. 58

from the rest of the city, a fountain, playground, café, etc. were maintained in such a way that even though the appearance of the space was renewed, it still projects the

The American urban planner and author Kevin Lynch explains in his book The image of the city that: “A city is a construction in space”59and that the design of a city is like a

recognizable essential elements of the earlier square.

form of uncontrollable art.60 Unlike the art of music, the art of a city is never a finished 56

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Genders in Spaces

might not even consider the idea of a gendered city at all. Alexander Cuthbert however, firmly believes that a sexless city would require a alteration in not only how we perceive

To start from the beginning, a public place originates from ancient Greece and is 65

each other, but the way we would bring up the generations to come.69

perceived as a democratic place or a place of equality . Its Greek term was res publica

According to A. R. Cuthbert public spaces only exist to the extent that they are

or agora, which translates to a gathering place66. This could be a place of political

acknowledged by law and “civil society” 70. The architectural dynamics affect not only

conversation or of trade, which the two squares of our choice, have in common.

how one may perceive a society, but rather how as a society, we see ourselves. As

When looking into the sexes in the city it is important to look into the background of the

Alexander Cuthbert expressed rather overtly, it’s a man’s world. Moreover, Cuthbert also

relationships between men and women. Western society has according to Alexander R.

sees women being as being controlled by their fears of other classes, genders and races.

Cuthbert been under the influence of a patriarchic system. Even after the years of

In this regard, he refers to the studies of Kristen Day which has investigated the

industrialization, which opened a window for women to join the workforce, the space of

behavioural trends of American women. This research showed that women tend to

the world is still the space of men. Notwithstanding, it would be an extreme

avoid places where their race, class or gender were a minority71.

overstatement to say that nothing has changed in the last 100 years.

It is worth acknowledging the deductions of these studies inasmuch as they imply that it

The idea of gender design stems from the age of industrialization. This was the time in

is not “only” fear of race, class and gender but also a fear of objects and places that

world history at which socialists became aware of the lack of equality between men and

differ from the individual’s concept of “ordinary”.

women. The quintessential ideal behind recognizing this inequality was that men and women should commit equality to the domestic chores and the kitchen-less house became the symbol for the goal.67 This was the outline for a genderless society. Our


Introduction to the empirical work conducted in Amagertorv &


focus however is on how architecture manifests gender dynamics within society. The example given by Cuthbert is that of phallic shaped buildings, which cities all over the world construct time and again in an effort to construct the largest edition.68 In fact, one

When we decided to conduct empirical observations we did it to gain knowledge of how various factors manifest themselves in shared space. We also wanted to investigate and


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test our hypotheses via interpretation and analysis, based on empirical observations.

proxemics to our observations. Consequently in order for us to understand our

Points 5.0 and 6.0 set out to show how we first observed the shared spaces that we

observations better, a system of classifying what we saw was formulated, with focus on

chose. No final decisions were made regarding what to focus on at this point. The idea

the following:

was to take into consideration everything that shared space had to offer. By not having a narrow goal with respect to these primary observations, we achieved our aim of being as

-General observations: our research displays a general overview of settings such as the

objective as possible.

date of when the examination was conducted, the weather and the time and a sketchy overview of the number of individuals present during the process.

When observing interaction in shared spaces, one may gather a wide variety of information and formulate different hypotheses about the reasons why people behave in

-Architecture : Our research contains considerations about the architectural style, age,

a certain way.

features and design of the town squares and their influence on social interaction.

The actions performed by people in shared spaces may be affected by several agents,

-Social interaction : Examination of interactional patterns between people, based on

such as time of the day, season, weather and mood related issues. Considering these

proxemics . However, at this point of the research, we were not able to apply theories as

statements, this project has been structured by the examination of two different town

such because of lack of material and knowledge on the matter, allowing for a more open-

squares in two distinct cities : Copenhagen's Amagertorv, in the heart of the city and

minded approach.

Næstved's Axeltorv in the middle of the countryside town. Our empirical approach has been performed through the use of video cameras, filmed by sub groups within our

* The video footage of our observations is available online at the following location.

project group. The studies took place twice for each square, initially on a working day

This link contains all the footage used in the writing of this project.

and thereafter on a Saturday. The time of our observations was around noon in all cases and only slight differences regarding the weather existed during the course of

investigation. Most of our video footage can be sourced online (Ref, “Video footage”)

We carried out the first round of observations with the goal of experiencing what the shared spaces had to offer, without considering any ideology or particular thesis. During the second round of observations, we focused our studies on social interaction with the intention of applying some of the theories acquired by reading some material about

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consequent construction of “Højbro” 73


Amagertorv In 1894 the stork fountain was built on the occasion of the wedding of prince Frederik to princess Louise. Over the course of time, the fountain has been of great importance for many different groups. In the 1960s it was used as a gathering point for youthful counterculture rebellions and nowadays it is frequently used in a ritualistic context started in the 1950s, whereby midwives dance around the fountain when they graduate74. Amagertorv linked with the pedestrian street in 1962. This change gave the square a whole new function as it stopped being a walk through and thereby acquired a calmer atmosphere75 In 1993 the Danish sculptor Bjørn Nørgaard designed the colorful

( Map view of Amagertorv )72

patterned pavement that covers the square76 which, combined with the lighting above it 77,

gives the square a very vivid appeal.

5.2 History of Amagertorv Amagertorv has been known for years though under different names and has served different functions. Around 1470 the square was used as a passage between Gammel torv and the market place by Stranden Ved Nikolajs Plads. It wasn’t until 1472 that the square was known as Amagertorv, a name that derived from the fact that citizens from the island of Amager used the square as a market place for selling groceries to traders from Copenhagen. Up until the end of the 1700s the square was used for parties and tournaments. This changed after an episode in 1795 during which a big fire started at Gammelholm and spread to Amagertorv where it burned down many of the old buildings from the middle age. There was a lot of confusion during the fire because


people panicked and crowded the square so that the firemen couldn’t get the water to the


location of the fire. The fire created more open space in the square, prompting the



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77 sHistorie.aspx

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rambling , couples holding each other's arms and individuals in the company with their

5.3 Empirical work

acquaintances chatting in close proximity to shops and cafés. The flow of people in the square was less observable on the weekday film excursion than it was on our weekend

General observations th

Our research was conducted on two occasions, on Tuesday the 26 of October and on

trip. As such, on the first visit to the square, it was observed that people converged in

Saturday the 6 of November. In both situations, the studies were conducted in the early

particular spots or clusters as it were, typically around cafes, boutiques and benches.

afternoon and the weather was cloudy and cold. During the first round of observations,

The placement of certain spots such as cafés boutiques and benches in Amagertorv may

on a working day, the influx of people was minimal, thus the square was not really

be described as sociopetal, since it facilitates interaction and make people be able to


communicate in a comfortable way. Furthermore, we may say that in both observation

On the other hand, the following stage of observations during the weekend presented a

outings the most attractive spot for people to meet and interact it has always been the

different view of the place. The square was much more crowded however during the

fountain, as it bears the appearance of an impressive sculpture, whose circularity may

cold season.

indeed have facilitated the attraction of large gatherings of people and artistic events


around it. Architecture When focusing on the architectural aspects of the square, it is worth noticing how broad

6.0. Axeltorv

a space Amagertorv is as well as the numerous entrances and exits to and from it. Amager torv assumes the shape of a funnel by widening and narrowing at the end. The square floor is a pavement with an extravagant pattern of granite pentagons in the colours: rose, black, yellow and grey. This colorful patterned pavement is surrounded by tall buildings whereof some of them are shops, pubs, offices and cafes. As regards the positioning of particular furniture, one may mention the benches placed in the middle of the square, the cafés offering tables outdoor and the fountain, whose edge provides the facility of one sitting on it.

Social interaction

( Map view of Axeltorv )78

During the course of our research, we noticed how the square was home to people 78

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The reason for our interest in Axeltorv stems from that it matching the profile for a

6.2 Empirical work

countryside square to analyze in our project, mainly due to its many similarities to Amagertorv, such as architectural design and decoration, function and so on. Like Amagertorv, Axeltorv has a rich and colourful history, including recent reconstruction and remodeling last year.

6.1 The History of Axeltorv

General observations Our research at Axeltorv took place on Tuesday the 28th of September and on Saturday the 6th of November both days around noon. The weather on the first day of research was cloudy and cold whereas the weather on the second outing was more sunny albeit still cold.

Though Axeltorv has changed a great deal through time, the function of the square has always been the same. Even before the square was built the place functioned as the center of Næstved and was used by the citizens of the town as a gathering point and marketplace. Around 1553 the last buildings in the square were torn down and Axeltorv as we know it today began to take shape79. Some of the old buildings surrounding the square today are originally from the middle ages and have undergone restoration as the square has continued to evolve. The sculpture in the middle of the square was remade in 1994 by the sculptor Bjørn Nørgaard and is a portrait of an old Danish legend called

Because the first research was made on a working day not that many interactions took place. This made the square seem very empty compared to the second outing where numerous small stands and stalls facilitated increased interaction in the square. The change in the amount of people from the first day to the second was also significant. Additionally, during our second visit there were a lot of people of all ages as opposed to the working day where we spotted people predominantly in the ages of 25+. Architecture

Slattenpatten, first modeled in 1660 by the Danish carver Abel Schrøder. The original title of the sculpture was “Slattenpatten and her daughters from Rønnebæksholm” and

One of the key features of Axeltorv is the rather bright pavement pattern that covers the

according to the myth she is a mysterious woman with long breasts. The children

rectangular town square. Several shops and service sector institutions surround the

standing by her side are half fish half human and if one drink from her breasts one can

square, namely a pharmacy, a bank, a clothes store, and several office buildings. Most of

attain extreme strength, legend has it. In the myth, the Nordic King Volmer used to haunt

the buildings are very old and have an antique-esque look and many of them are red in

Slattenpatten every night and therefore she had to fling her breasts over her shoulders in

color. In one end of the square there is a miniature playground, under which a parking


order to be able to run

lot has been constructed. This parking lot is used mainly in the morning and in the afternoon as people go to and from work. The other end of the square houses Bjørn Nøregaard's statue and contains benches along its outer fringes. Wednesday and the



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weekend in general are market days in the square, as florists, fish mongers, butchers, dairy venders and other small-scale businessmen open their stalls to the public. Their

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presence generates a fair deal of activity within the square and increases the level of

take a look at how signs and symbols reflect human behaviour in terms of how they


interact with each other and in a shared space. Additionally, we will include theories of communication to in order to broaden our understanding of the topic of communication

Social interactions

and interaction on the whole. Finally we will adapt these to our analysis of mere

While interacting, most people keep within the social or personal distance of others

physical communication and body language, in order to define the purpose, process and

depending on their relations. Yet we also noticed that there were several examples of

construction of it.

people interacting from the public distance however inconvenient doing so might be owing to the distortion of sensory inputs / outputs at such a distance. Most of the social

7.1 Semiotics of Body Language

interactions at Axeltorv take place by the playground and by the different stands at the market. Unlike the more open parts of the square, people tend to stop up at these places

Whilst we have already touched on the topic of body language by putting the term in a

to small talk and interact.

historical context of definition with complementary theories, we now must go deeper in our study of it. The importance of body language cannot be stressed enough, as it plays a

7.0 Semiotics and Models of communication

crucial role in human interaction, and has great influence on the course and process of conversation and communication of everyday life. However, in order to obtain full

When studying human interaction and communication in a shared space, various crucial

understanding of how human beings function in these situations it is important to grasp

areas of focus come to mind as essential in order to gather a complete overview of the

the basic elements of semiotics before going in depth with selected studies and theories

topic. The dimension of semiotics is one of them, as it takes a deeper look into the actual

by leading communication theorists on the matter.

message that is constructed and conveyed when two individuals interact, rather than just the process of the interaction itself. Semiotics can be used to study everything from texts

In short, it can be said that different gestures and postures contain and construct different

and spoken language to gestures, postures and grimaces. It is defined as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the study of

intentions from both the performer and the receiver, and without a convention, these

signs and symbolsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;81. Up until now, we have mainly focused on what makes human

signals that the message (the intention and meaning of a gesture) conveys will be lost

interaction occur, and how cultural and architectural factors affect how we act. With

and misunderstood. The performer in this case is the individual who initiates the process

semiotics in mind, however, we are able to investigate more closely how individuals

by committing an act, which could be anything from making an utterance to drawing

read each other, and their surroundings through signs and symbols. We will specifically

something on a paper. However in the case of body language, we will merely focus on


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physical acts, such as waving with your hand, tipping your shoulders or simply rolling

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your eyes. These acts that are focused upon are considered as signs in semiotics.

notion of meaning only forming in terms of the other elements in the model. In Peirce’s

Furthermore, the term ‘reader’ is preferred to the term ‘receiver’ in semiotics, as

model, these three elements are called the sign, the interpretant and the object. The

explained in the Anne Fabricius’ compendium because “it implies both a greater degree

following statement by Peirce, taken from Anne Fabricius compendium Text And Sign

of activity and also that reading is something we learn to do; it is thus determined by the

Part One, explains his model: 85


cultural experience of the reader” . This is supported further by the assertion that “The reader helps to create the meaning of the text by bringing to it his experience, attitudes

“A sign is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or

and emotions”83 Hence, we can ultimately begin to understand the importance of this

capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent

‘reader’s’ more active role in communication and human interaction, before casting light

sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. The sign which it creates I call the interpretant

on the issue of body language with help from selected models of semiotics as our tools.

of the first sign. The sign stands for something, its object.” (In Zeman, 1977.)

Various different approaches have been explored when it comes to understand the

Thus the interpretant, in Peirce’s case, isn’t meant to be understood as the reader

generation of meaning, some of which have been elaborated upon by the use of models.

himself/herself, but instead as the mere effect and the mental concept the sign would

Despite having thoroughly different takes on the generation of meaning altogether, most

create in the mind of the reader. Peirce emphasised the role of the interpretant by

of the models put forth by theorists share the idea of there being three crucial elements

declaring that, “Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign” (ibid.,2.172) 86. The

in the making of meaning. These consist of the sign itself, that to which it refers and the

object is somewhat the goal of it all, the meaning. It’s what the sign is trying to

users of the sign, also called the readers.84

resemble, and the intention of the sign in the first place. An example of how Peirce’s model works could be if one person, A, winks at another person, B. In this case, the

One of the founders of semiotics was the American logician and philosopher Charles S.

action, or the wink, will be assessed as a sign, whilst the object is the intention or ‘the

Peirce. Peirce contributed with his own understanding of meaning in the shape of a

message’ person A is trying to send. Person A might just be in a good mood and feels

triangular model. Peirce’s model, focuses on the three recurring elements which put

like saluting a random person he passes by and gets eye contact with, merely to be

together form a triangle, where each is equally crucial to one another inasmuch as the

polite. However, the reader, person B, can have his own understanding of this gesture,


the wink, and might read the sign differently, e.g. as person A showing interest in him,  John Fiske: Introduction to Communication studies” - London. Routledge, 1982 pp 43



 John Fiske “Introduction to communication studies” London: Routledge, 1982. pp 43

 John Fiske “Introduction to communication studies” London: Routledge, 1982. pp 45


 John Fiske “Introduction to communication studies” London: Routledge, 1982. pp 44. from Anne Fabricius compendium “Text And Sign Part One” pp. 44

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 Daniel Chandler: “Semiotics: The basics” Routledge 2007. p, 13.

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by flirting. In such a situation there is a lack of mutual understanding, as the sign isn’t

channel and the code. Together with the sender and the receiver they make up the six

interpreted as intended. There can be several reasons why person A and person B don’t

points of Jakobson’s model, which is pictured below.87

share the same set of codes. There is no fixed convention, as the two people will have brought with them different experiences, habits and other possible marks of social and cultural influence. Convention, or the lack thereof when examining these encounters of social interaction, is a key factor in creating the diversity in the roles of such interaction and communication. What may be considered an act of elegance for the reader, may just be intended as an average act of casualness for the sender of the sign, leading to communication being misinterpreted.


Alternative Models of Communication

Another very influential study of communication is that of Roman Jakobson and his

Taking into account which use the model will be applied for, the sender and receiver can

model of communication, better known simply as the Jakobson model. Roman Jakobson

also be named the addresser and the addressee or the writer and the reader.

was a Russian linguist, who made use of semiotics and the studies by Peirce in order to

Notwithstanding, when concentrating on body language, sender and receiver are

develop his own model. Though his model of communication mainly has been used to

effectively sufficient terms. While the sender, the message and the receiver, are similar

contribute to studies of verbal and written communication, we have deemed it

to the terms used by Peirce, we must grasp the remaining points of Jakobson’s model.

sufficiently relevant to represent the case of body language and social interaction.

The context could be a situation, or a place, while the contact reflects the way in which the message is conveyed, be it through a written document, a speech or a gesture.

Jakobson’s model, emphasizes the importance of various codes and social contexts,

Furthermore, Jakobson stated that 'the efficiency of a speech event demands the use of a

upon which an act of communication or interaction may be influenced. Not purely a

common code by its participants'88 declaring a similar view on a set of common codes,

basic sender-receiver model, Jakobson’s model also presents four additional points of 87

focus, in order to further define the process and the purpose of a conversation, or other sorts of social interaction. These four additional points are the context, the message, the 88

 Roman Jakobson & Morris Halle (1956): Fundamentals of Language. The Hague: Mouton p.72 in the document by Daniel

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or convention as that of Peirce and his model. The code can, in the case of body

put to use in the analysis of social interaction in a shared space as we shall see in the

language, reflect a common understanding of gestures and postures, while ultimately

following brief summary. If we analyze bypassing people in shared spaces such as we

also depending on the context, can be the situation or space where the interaction takes

did with our footage in Copenhagen and Næstved, it is evident that some people

place. Therefore, Jakobson highlights several points that may be taken into consideration

wandered through the squares and shopping streets with different postures, ultimately

when evaluating a course of social interaction and communication.

processing different signals and messages. Some walked with their hands in their pockets tucking their chins as deep in their jackets and scarves as they could, ultimately

Lastly, French theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes’ account of denotation and

displaying a very reserved body language, trying to ‘hide’ in their jackets, scarves and

connotation may also be used as a resource when attempting to come to terms with the

hats, this could be the interpretant in Peirce’s model. However, if we examine these

topics of meaning and communication. Barthes systematically imported some ideas from

postures assisted by the Jakobson model of communication, the message may be that the

semiotics in order to present his theory of two different types of signification. Barthes’

person is in fact just freezing, the chilly weather, being the context, taken in

account explains two different types of signification, somewhat reflecting the

consideration. The Jakobson model appears useful in an additional context, i.e. when

relationship between the signifier and the signified in semiotics. While denotation

adapting it to some of our further footage. In the video of the buskers on strøget, starring

expresses the ‘literal’ meaning, or ‘official’ meaning in a sense, of a word or a gesture, in

what seems to be a family band playing music on the streets of Strøget89, there is also a

the case of body language, Barthes suggested that connotation defines the state of mood

process of communication taking place. While the band is the sender of the message,

feeling or description more in depth and more detailed so to speak. In the case of

being the music they play, the receivers are the people who are object to the music, such

someone expressing their joy through the action of whistling whilst strolling down the

as the people passing by hearing their music. The context is the location at which they

street, the connotative interpretation of the gesture may be something less visible for the

are playing (Strøget), while the contract is the way they emit their message, which is by

viewer, namely the reason as to why this person is in such a joyful moment as it seems

singing and playing their instruments. Ultimately the code settles the reaction of the

to appear. The connotative interpretation therefore is useful in order for individuals to

receivers, in our case we can clearly see some people in the video (apart from ourselves)

read each other’s signals and moods when interacting.

stepping closer and enjoying the music, interacting, clapping their hands and tapping their feet, as we saw after the camera stopped recording. However, other receivers had

7.3 Use of the models of communication and semiotics

conflicting codes, and preferred to walk on by, ignoring the message of the street musicians. Finally, not forgetting Barthes’ theory of the denotative and connotative, if

These models and theories presented above all manifest their respective relevance when 89

Chandler “Semiotics for Beginners”

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“Buskers Amagertorv I”

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someone signals you a message, a denotative interpretation can help one understand

respective cities. They are both designed to be memorable and as Lynch claims, humans

another persons actions further, as one self can try to construct a clearer view of the

tend to regard their surroundings in sequences. Both of the squares are decorated with

origins of someone else’s body language, going more in depth with someone else’s

pavement that varies from the rest of the city and with two significant monuments in the

feelings when engaging in interaction with one another. In conclusion, these different

form of fountains. The two fountains are interesting to look at in the light of the

models and theories of communication and semiotics lend a helping hand for individuals

symbolism behind each of them. As pointed out earlier the two fountains have a long

trying to grasp the meaning and the purpose of messages of communication, in order to

history, even though Axeltorv’s fountain is a more recent affair. In terms of the theories

ease interaction.

of Alexander R. Cuthbert in connection to the study of Kristin Day, the two fountains could be interpreted as the collision of the gender balance. Cuthbert mentions that the

8.0 Architectural Analysis

dominance of skyscrapers is a phallus symbol, which also could be linked with the two fountains. The basic form of the fountain represents the male gender, whereas the

In the descriptive sections of this project (parts 5 and 6 regarding the notion of open

motives are more focused on the female. Storkespringvandet is decorated with storks

space being represented by a city square either one may find references that point out the

that represent birth and fertility, trades of the female, which also could explain the

fact that social interactions among people tends to be a dissociated process. Indeed it

tradition for the newly educated midwives. The fountain Slattenpatten in Næstved gives

may seem as if social space has a tendency to be less and less about personal social

an even clearer idea of gender balance in the sense that it does not only represents the

interaction and more about collective dynamics. The shared spaces we have examined

female gender in a symbolic way, but also in a literal aspect.

are in many instances merely used as walkthroughs to get from one point to another instead of a place where we as humans stop, talk and interact with each other. People

Both Alexander R. Cuthbert and Kevin Lynch focus on the importance of a healthy city

pass each other in these open shared spaces, surrounded by certain architectonic

environment, where both men and women are comfortable to move around. Lynch’s

features, which lead us in a specific direction. Alexander R. Cuthbert cements this

theory can be applied to the recognizable details of the squares. The decorated

assertion, pointing out that “Since all human actions is infused with meaning, so the

pavement, antique and significant buildings, e.g. George Jensen’s outlet or ILLUM in

space we inhabit are also replete with symbolic values, collective memory, association

Amagertorv are highly recognizable details in this respect. As mentioned before the two

celebration and conflict. 1”

squares have important function of being the central places for movement around the cities and as such they have to be balanced for all who might pass through. Thus the

When applying Kevin Lynch’s theories to the two squares we have to consider the

function of the fountains in the two squares becomes a little clearer inasmuch as they

features and dynamics of the city / town setting within which they are located. The main

serve as mediators between different genders. It is therefore arguable that architectural

thing that both sites have in common is that they are both central places in their

design in general is a method of inducing social interaction in order to create a sense of

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there being a comfort-zone within the space. The art of architecture thus becomes

consideration. Later on in the course of our writing however, we became more aware of

apparent in urban design and aids comprehension of the squareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dynamics. Reiterating,

what we wanted to focus on.

we have discussed the fact that the interaction of people in a shared space takes place in rather robotic, almost pre-programmed fashion in keeping with an encoded code of


Observations of Social Interaction in Amagertorv

behavioural norms. Depending on whether or not the individual is walking in a group of more than two persons or by themselves, the encoded rule is manifested in different

Amagertorv is one of the most popular squares in Denmark and as such, it is usually

ways, in terms of the variation of the uses of proxemics. According to our observations it

home to a large number of people everyday. People converge in the square for different

is noticeable that two people walking together create their own personal space. Then

reasons such as shopping and leisure related activities. The presence of such a great

again one person may have a tendency to walk faster and more determinedly. This

mass of individuals, the formation of a crowd because of an event or a special day in the

matter of fact can be linked to what has been accounted for in section 3.3. The larger the

week, makes people walk closer to each other.90

crowd the more stressful the environment may seem. This could result in the fact that the variation of the architecture, not only is creating a comfortable zone, but also tries to

When observing the phenomenon of moving flocks of people, one can't realise who is

manipulate the mentality of the social interaction taking place in the public space, in the

interacting with who, nor if the persons know each other on a personal basis. It follows

sense that the goal is to create a calm environment.

therefore that People tend to invade each other's intimate space.91 In this respect, it was noted that some people were comfortable with being in such close contact with complete

9.0 Interpretation of social interaction in Amagertorv

strangers, while others tried to disguise and / or hide themselves by reading newspapers or using mobile phones 92. Quite a number of people even stopped and idled and there were less instances of brisk, goal-oriented walking and more instances of casual, open

* The video footage of our observations is available online at the following location.

/observational walking.93 It seemed that there were no specific patterns in the way

This link contains all the footage used in the writing of this project.

people moved, except for the paths/trends some of them follow to stay closer to the shops, in order to glance at the products on display.94 When examining the square, we

noticed that it presented a wide variety of people engaged in different actions. A group


In this section we based our analysis on observations done solely on social interaction. When we first did our empirical research we took all manner of factors into

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91 92 93 94

Video Amagertorv II ( from 00:25 , people walk close to each other ) See section 3.4 : the four distances ( intimate space/ personal space ) Video Amagertorv III ( from 00:10, man with white sweater talking at the phone) Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 01:39, elderly couple staring ) Video Amagertorv 1 (from min 01:07, lady looks at the shop window)

Page 64 of 103

of persons gathered close to the fountain were filmed talking and socialising (within the

before it is possible for us to notice this attitude through several non-verbal

realms of personal distance), whilst different couples wandered slowly, and calmly about

manifestations such as facial expressions, postures and gestures.

the square holding each other's hands. Flows of people went in and out from shops, cafĂŠs

When looking at the people who sat on the benches around the square, one could

and surrounding food kiosks 95. Some other characters approached and interacted with

perceive that they presented an open attitude while chatting with their partners or

the music of buskers in the square, forming small crowd clusters within the square. As

acquaintances by stretching comfortably their legs, leaning back against the benches 97.

briefly stated before, the fountain is probably one of the main attractions, whose location

In the videos we shot, one could notice how some people look at ease98, some of them


may be described as sociopetal, helping people communicate and interact. In fact this

without folding their arms and with their torsos and palms well exposed. Their facial

spot is a favorite amongst street performers as it fosters a means by which they can

expressions reveal some of the emotions they feel while interacting. A smile, a frown, a

connect with their audience.

look of concern, furrowing one's brow while talking with friends and acquaintances

To sum up, we could observe that there is always a lot of interaction going on in

around the fountain, are all details which can help us interpret someone's mood and

Amagertorv and these interactions most of the times take place within the intimate,

hypothesize about someone's way of interacting99. From the experiment conducted in

personal and social distance.

Amagertov, we learned how to spot this process. For example, this was really noticeable by the way people acted differently while walking through the square. Some persons just walked slowly and patiently, without showing any apparent signs of being bothered by


Body Language

the contact with other people's bodies due to of the small amount of space available, while others in order to slip away through the crowd without touching others or being

The twin studies conducted in Amagertorv were essential and constructive for our

blocked, keep their hands in their pockets or walk faster without hesitations. Many

project, yet they did not fully enrich us as regards body language trends. In order to

pedestrians, for example lone individuals, walked briskly trying to avoid the blocks of

achieve more precise conclusions and results, a longer period of examination would be

hindering people in that way. 100 In our opinion, they may have been people that were

required. Two days of observations are not sufficient to thoroughly detect recurrent

irritated in some way or other, perhaps for personal reasons and hence their brisk

trends. However, some important and relevant cases involving explicitly and clearly

walking pace may have been an attempt to leave the square behind as fast as possible.

expressed gesturing were taken into consideration and commented upon. As regards body language in Amagertorv, we think it is relevant to mention the relaxed attitude which the majority of people were displaying whilst in the square. As we said

We reached these conclusions by observing the gestures and expressions of exasperation or irritation of random people in the square whenever a person carrying a bike were 97 98

95 96

Video Amagertorv II ( from 00:28, kiosk and interaction ) Video Amagertorv IV ( from 04:03 and at 07:28 )

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99 100

Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 01:30 to 01:49 ) Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 04:00 , people relaxing on the benches ) Video Amagertorv II ( from min 01:51, people meeting up, smiling, hugging ) Video Amagertorv III ( from 00:09, man dressed in white talking at the phone, crossing square from left hand side)

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slowing down the pedestrian flow 101

the square is crowded, the individuals manage to connect with each other from a distant

As regards this last statement, we noted something totally different concerning body

position, and thereafter they start walking closer to each other105. They don't seem to feel

language. One particular incident in this respect is that of the encounter between two

uncomfortable, their attitude is visibly relaxed.

ladies in the square. This particular incident displays some interesting aspects of human

As we mentioned before, this analysis did not allow us to collect enough information to

behavior and thus body language.102 The lady dressed in red, carries her bike across the

identify frequent body language tendencies and trends. Nevertheless the results obtained

square, waves briefly at someone else who is approaching her by bike as well. We don't

by observing and detecting the evidently manifested gesticulation of some individuals

know who the person moving nearer is but by analysing her behavior we may say that

have allowed us to compare people's body-language expressions in a city like

she is someone who knows her on a personal basis. The communicational exchanges

Copenhagen and in a countryside town like Næstved.

between the two of them took place within the Intimate and the Personal distances, which are the inner spectra of Hall’s interactional distances discussed before. The body

9.3) Proxemics

language of the two women displays comfort and trust. The receiver of the signal, the second person entering the scene doesn't temporise or hesitate, she walks directly into

In this section of the project, our writing mainly focuses on the theories made by Edward

her acquaintance's personal zone (within the close phase of the personal distance and the

T. Hall. The book used for this part is called “The Hidden Dimension” which provides

far phase of the intimate distance). Another interesting aspect of this particular encounter

us with the key to unlock the meaning and purpose of human interaction. When

may be observed by considering receptive and donative behavior. Allan Pease assumes

searching for the answer to the invisible language of humans, it is important to

that individuals can convey defensive signals in interactional situations by protecting

remember that the book mainly bases its research on American culture, which of course

their torso and thus displaying a close body language, or by interposing an external

can be a problematic affair when applying its findings to Danish culture. It is therefore

object in between them and their opponents 103. In this case, the individuals can be

important to stress the fact that Hall’s research may not be entirely relevant to our

considered rather spontaneous, secure and even open to each other, in fact both of them

findings. However, the cultural differences might not be as vast as they may have been if

are carrying their bikes on the other side of the interactional sphere. There are no

Hall’s research in social interaction had been conducted in a completely different

obstacles or shields inasmuch as the bike is not a barrier104.

culture, such as a non-western one. Our interpretations of Hall’s research therefore

Another fascinating aspect concerning this instance of interaction is the gestures of the

strive to put some of his theories concerning social interaction into perspective as

individuals involved in the interaction, for instance as they wave to each other. Though

regards the observations conducted in Amagertorv. The question as to how the four


distances manifest themselves in Danish culture is crucial in this regard, as is the

102 103 104

Video Amagertorv IV ( from 01:35 to 01:40, guy with brown coat and black hat stopped by a bike ) Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 3:41 including small part at 5:11 ) Allan Pease: Body Language Camel Publishing Company 1981 Page 59 Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 3:56, the bike is not a barrier )

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Video Amagertorv 1 ( from min 03:40, lady in red waves at her acquaintance )

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investigation of how similar or different the manner in which it is expressed is from one

at least it would seem so judging from our footage from Amagertorv. There are many

location to another.

examples in the videos of people making use of the personal distance. One specific

This section will not make a thorough analysis of the four distances, but instead attempt

groups of three people walking very closely together. This simultaneous interaction

to draw out what the videos show us about these distances. When looking at our

between groups is an occurrence that seems to repeat itself a lot in Amagertorv. This

observations in relation to our fieldwork and our videos it is clear that interaction within

might have something to do with the fact that people form packs that they walk around

the intimate phase is problematic to observe as it would appear that intimate behavior

in. One feature of interactions between people within the personal distance that is not

isn't that common in a shared space. Having said that, it does seem to happen more at

documented specifically in our video footage is the level of vocal audio. Observation of

Amagertorv than at Axeltorv. This is underlined by the “Amagertorv VI106” where we

this is therefore limited to our own deductions made at the time of our filming. The

see two people at the far bench in the background. The obvious thing to assume is that it

validity of Hall’s assertion that vocal audio is very moderate at this distance is therefore

probably is a couple. The reason that we assume that it must be a couple is because it

ratified by the fact that we observed that it was normal for people to speak at a very low

would be odd to let a complete stranger into one’s intimate zone, a notion that concurs

and mellow level as they interacted within this proxemic distance. Notwithstanding, as

with Halls theories which state that one only lets ones closest friends or lovers into this

Hall himself states that which is to be considered as normal with respect to proxemic

distance.107 It seems like the couple on the bench are creating their own intimate zone

patterns depends on the cultural settings within which interaction takes place.

example can be seen in the video entitled Amagertorv VI 109 where we observe two

as they watch the world go round. They are also alone on the bench even though there is plenty of room on it for other people to sit down. One could argue that the reason that

The Social distance is a proxemic distance that can both be used by people who know

people don’t sit down next to the couple is because doing so would break the intimate

each other and by people who don’t. An example of interaction within the close phase of

sphere that the they have created. Another example of interaction within the intimate

this distance in video “Amagertorv VII,” where a couple of boys sit at the fountain. The

sphere can be seen in the video “Amagertorv VII” where one can observe a couple

boys are conversing with each other, one is sat on the fountain ledge and the other is

holding hands and walking very close together, at the far phase of the intimate

standing up yet they are far enough apart to be interacting with each other in the close


phase of the social distance, exemplifying hence how this distance is used even between people who know each other quite well as we assume the two boys do. There seems to

Moving into the personal distance, it gets easier to observe some of Edward T. Hall’s

be no decisive link between the use of this proxemic distance and the personal

theories, since this is the distance within which many people use in the shared space. Or

relationship people have to each other. Hall also mentions that some people within the


far phase of this distance may over-stress their neck muscles in order to gain contact

107 108

Video Amagertorv VI Section 3.4. , the four distances. Amagertorv VII

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Amagertorv VI

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with people that they are communicating with.110. This postulation seems applicable to

aspect of his proxemic research that was omitted from our observations. 113

Danish culture from what we have observed. An example of this can be seen can be seen 39 seconds into the video entitled Næstved I 111 where three gentlemen are raising their

10.0 Interpretation of social interaction in Axeltorv

necks and waving to get into contact with someone. * The video footage of our observations is available online at the following location. The last distance of the four is the public distance. This distance manifests itself via

This link contains all the footage used in the writing of this project.

interactions between street performers and their audience. Interactions within this distance can be seen quite clearly in the Videos entitled “Buskers Amagertorv I and

II” 112 where what we assume to be a family of musicians perform to the bypassing audience. In this video people gathered around the musicians to watch the show and thereby interacted with the performers from within the public distance. Interestingly

10.1 Observations of social interactions

enough, the invisible barrier between the performers and their audience wasn’t crossed or breached by a single passer-by who walked around it instead of through it.

When observing social interaction the first thing to notice is how people move in a shared space. In Axeltorv people generally maintain a certain distance while moving

Analysing social interaction in shared spaces entails narrowing down the scope of ones research such that specific factors are accounted for and others are left out. A deeper examination of social interaction could have been made for instance by observing more minute cultural aspects of social interactions. Hall claims that the level of voice changes from one culture to another. It was not possible for us to conduct any concrete research in this respect as our ability to record and analyse sounds in detail was insufficient and inadequate. In similar vein, the dominating effect mentioned earlier by Hall of people standing up in order to look down at people sat within their social distance was another

around the square. When they pass each other they carefully keep within the social distance of other. The only exception is when someone stops to look at the adjacent stands. If two persons, or more are standing by the stalls looking at the merchandise on sale they often move from the social distance to the personal zone seemingly without noticing it. Only if someone dares to move within another person’s intimate distance it is noticed and the person whose personal space is being invaded will most likely move in another direction. Another example where people move within the personal distance of others is at the playground where families were gathered to watch their children play. In this case

110 111


Section 3.4. “Social interaction” social distance – far phase.

people often move within each others personal distance while they are talking to each

Video Næstved I

Videos Buskers Amagertorv I and II

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Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 114.

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other. When looking at how children move in the square it is noticeable that they do not

within the outer spectra of Hall’s interactional distances (i.e. Public, Social distance) as

seem to have the same perception of the different spaces as adults. As they are running

opposed to within the inner dimensions of these proxemics d as mentioned in the

and playing they sometimes they move into other people’s personal or even intimate

previous section.

space most of the time without noticing it. Similarly, people whose personal space is being invaded by children do not seem to have a strong objection to this. Most of the

One of the exemplary instances of body language being overtly expressed in Axeltorv is

interactions at Axeltorv take place within the personal or social distance but there are

the incident involving the conversation between two elderly men in the middle of the

also examples of interactions taking place from the public distance. E.g. A man

square. (Ref Video, Næstved I117) The body language of the man on his bike (the

approaching another man from a distance of about three to four metres. The

initiator of the conversation) may be described as measured, even cautionary. The

conversation between the two men in the video Næstved I114 takes place within the

subject in question approaches the man seated on the bench (i.e. the receiver) and rather

public distance with the result that they are almost yelling at each other115. Another

candidly avoids entering his intimate zone, preferring instead to communicate with him

example of this is when two girls and a man are talking to each other in the square.

from a distance (i.e. within the far phase of the public distance.) His body language

There are no items in between them but still they are standing far away from each other

reflects his cautionary demeanour, as he places his bicycle in between himself and the

during their conversation 116.

gentleman seated on the bench (See picture.) Whilst this phenomenon may simply be the result of the man using his bike in a practical fashion, it could equally be the consequence of him using the bike as some sort of shield or barrier between him and the


Body Language

receiver in the discourse. Allan Pease postulates that humans can, in interactional situations use solid objects such as furniture to protect themselves as part of an

The overall duration of our research in Axeltorv was somewhat limited insofar as it

instinctive process that one learns as a child. 118 Conversely, the body language of the

didn’t allow us to make significant observations of body language trends as such.

recipient in this particular example of interaction, i.e. the man sat on the bench can be

Instead, separate instances involving explicitly and overtly expressed gesticulation were

described as rather free, secure and even open. The man’s torso is exposed, as his arms

observed and commented upon. This was exacerbated by the fact that Axeltorv was not

are folded shoulder-width apart across the bench and his legs aren’t crossed. This

that populated and as such, the number of observations that could be made of body

assertion is supported by the work of Allan Pease, who maintains that crossed legs and

language within the space was limited. In this respect, the lack of crowding in the square

protected torsos reflect closed body language inasmuch as those exhibiting body

may explain the fact that the communicational exchanges between people took place

language of this sort seek inadvertently to protect themselves in some way or other. On

114 115 116

Video Næstved II (Time 00:39) Næstved II Time: 04.35 Næstved IV. Time: 00.02.55

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117 118

Video, ”Næstved I” (00:39) Allan Pease: Body Language Camel Publishing Company 1981 Page 59

Page 74 of 103

the other hand, exposed torsos and uncrossed legs are said to reflect more open, donative

gentleman with the bicycle in Video “Næstved I” initially approaches the man sat on the

body language.

bench via interacting with him from the outer fringes of Hall’s proxemic distances, all the way out in the public distance used by interactions between musicians / streets artists

Returning to the interaction between these two gentlemen, it was observed that the man

with their audience. He then slowly advances through the far phase of social distance

with the bike slowly yet surely encroached closer to the subject sat on the bench, albeit

and eventually to the near phase of the social distance but never strays within the

making this advance with his bike placed in front of his torso as opposed to doing so

personal or intimate distance. Edward T Hall and Allan Please alike argue that the

with his torso leaning away from the bike. Such behaviour can be said to be

amount of personalised space required by an individual within a shared space depends

precautionary, as the man exercises caution before entering the personal zone of his

on the area in which he or she was raised. 121 It has been suggested that those raised in

contemporary sat on the bench, a feature of territoriality dynamics that has been asserted

cities require less personalised space than those raised in the country. One could thereby

by the works of anthropologists and social scientists alike. 119 In fact, this is rather

pose questions as to whether the simple fact that we filmed in Næstved was an influence

predictable, overt feature of interaction that manifests itself in countless everyday

in itself upon interaction in Axeltorv, indeed whether culture dictated that the two

interactional exchanges between humans. Spatial dynamics in the Western world for

subjects in video “Næstved I” communicate with each other from such expansive

example implicitly dictate that one lays claim to a territory of his own within a shared

distances. It is however worth to note that other factors could explain the manner of

space, he or she does so by choosing the widest space available between himself or

interaction observed, for instance the personalities of the subjects in question. How

herself and then occupying the area in the centre. This free space can be manifested in

introverted or extroverted both were both at the time of our observations and generally

the form of a free seat on a public transport vehicle, halfway between the end of a row

could certainly explain their interactional patterns, if only on a sketchy, assuming level

and where the nearest person is seated or the unclaimed towel hook at the gym, midway

based on our exceptionally limited knowledge of the personalities of these individuals.

between two other towels or midway between the nearest towel and the end of the towel rack. This territorial ritual could be a precautionary measure that seeks to avoid

Another feature of body language observed in Axeltorv was the more relaxed demeanour

offending other people by either being too close or too far away from them. 120

of people in groups compared to people that were by themselves in the square. The comfortableness of being within familiar contexts (indeed the very notion of having

One could also pose the question as to whether or not the interactional process under

something remotely in common such as a shared purpose as minor as observing a poster

discussion could be link to cultural factors that may have some influence in the manner

on a wall with other people as opposed to being completely alone) can be said to create a

in which communication between people takes place. As stated previously, the

sense of ease amongst people.122

119 Allan Pease: Body Language Camel Publishing Company 1981 Page 23, Adam Sammons, Article on territoriality, 120 Allan Pease: Body Language Camel Publishing Company 1981 Page 23,

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Allan Pease: Body Language Camel Publishing Company 1981 Page 23, Edward T Hall, The Hideen Dimension

REF section 4.

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and they thereby have a more relaxed attitude towards others. It could also be the fact that people’s attention is diverted while looking at the merchandise which makes them more unaware and therefore less cautious when people enter their personal/intimate zones.

10.3 Proxemics In our observations of Axeltorv we noticed that when moving in the square people tended to stay within the social zone of others. It is only when people gathered around the stands to look at the merchandise that they seem to feel permitted to enter the 123

personal or even intimate zone

. So why is it only okay to enter the personal zone in

some situations?

As mentioned before we noticed in our observations that children do not seem to have the same perception of the different zones. The reason for this is that children have not yet been indoctrinated with norms and culture. As they are not aware of the significance of the zones they do not see the invasion as a violation. in this context, the reaction of adults to invasions of their personal or intimate zone by children is rather interesting. It seems as if they too do not see the invasion as a violation. This is possibly because an

There are no general rules for how much space human beings need in order to feel

adult rarely perceives children as a threat.

comfortable. The comfort zone is individual and can vary depending on culture, gender, personality etc124. When people move around at Axeltorv they generally don’t move outside of each others social zones. A simple reason for this could be that there is so much space that there is no need to do otherwise. Humans have a way of accommodating to the space given which would also mean that if the square was more crowded it would be more acceptable to enter another person’s personal or intimate zone125. The reason why people seem to be okay with crossing the zones while they are looking

Another thing to notice is that many people at Axeltorv seemed comfortable talking to each other from the social or public zone. According to Allan Pease the reason for this is that people growing up in the country have a wider comfort zone than people growing up in the city126. A limitation in this applying this theory to this specific example is that we lack important information about the background of the interacting people which mean that it is not certain that these people in fact grew up or even live in the countryside.

at the stands could be that they are adjusting to the space available to them as they are trying to look at the merchandise. Another reason could be that gathering around

11.0 Analytical Comparison of Axeltorv and Amagertorv

something with a joint purpose makes people feel like they have something in common 123 124 125

Video Næstved III: 01:53 See section 3.3 on proxemics, Definition of the four distances. See section 3.3 on proxemics, Social interaction in animals

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11.1 Comparison of Body Language 126

Allan Pease : ”Body Language” Camel publishing company 1981

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town. Comprehension of the comparison of the body language trends in the two squares needs to be made with consideration to the fact that as a rule of thumb, there was a lot more

The walking pace of some individuals within Amagertorv is brisk and arguably hurried

going on at Amagertorv than there was in Axeltorv at the time of our filming. The sheer

and there are relatively few instances of the use of everyday objects as devices that

number of people present in the former was much greater than that in the latter. This

impose boundaries upon communicational processes. At Axeltorv on the other hand,

arguably fostered conditions for more instances of interaction between people in

Pedestrian pace at this location is as a rule of thumb, slow if not calm and calculated and

Amagertorv, whilst the lack of large numbers of people in Axeltorv may have done the

the use of objects as barriers to communicational processes is quite common. This

opposite, thereby limiting the scope and extent of what could be observed. In this

variation can again be traced back to the fact that there were more people in Amagertorv

context, the function and consequences of crowding upon the interactional / behavioural

than there were in Axeltorv at the time of our observations, and hence whilst

mannerisms of people within these two sites needs to be considered.

Amagertorv was more crowded as a consequence, Axeltorv was far less crowded. The effect of crowding has already been discussed in section 3.3 127. One could therefore

Many of the body language patterns observed in Amagertorv can be described as being

argue that the higher walking pace observed in Amagertorv is a direct result of greater

examples of open, donative behavioural trends. Gesticulation takes place in many

levels of stress which in turn is a response to crowding. The reverse is therefore true of

instances and in an overt if not explicit fashion, arguably reflecting the fact that there

our deductions pertaining to Axeltorv; lower walking speeds as a result of lower stress

was generally more interaction on the whole between people in the square during our

levels in themselves a consequence of less crowding in the shared space. It was also

visits to the site. This is exemplified by the numerous instances of exposed torsos, open

noted that quite a few people in Amagertorv tended to walk around the square, close to

palms, overt gesticulation and so on. One could argue that the sheer number of people in

the buildings surrounding it in order to get from point A to B, as opposed to walking

the square facilitates the opportunity for more interactional exchanges, and thereby

through the centre of the square. This tendency was amplified the fewer people there

allows for increased instances of expressions of body language. Copenhagen’s status and

were in the square. As a rule of thumb however, the flow of people in the square as they

significance as the capital city of Denmark may indeed play a pivotal role in explaining

walk from one point to another was rather random. Axeltorv also reflected the

the high population density within Amagertorv. Body language tendencies in Axeltorv

phenomenon of people walking around the square as opposed to walking through it to

can be elucidated as being a blend of both open and closed behavioural trends. In

get from one point to another. Whether or not this increased depending on the number of

Næstved’s Axeltorv, gesticulation takes place in moderation and is limited to several

people in the square is not known as the numbers of people in Axeltorv at the time of

brief instances. It would be prudent to ask whether this reflects the fact that there were

filming were more or less constant. It was however observed that people in Axeltorv

generally less observable interactions between people at this location at the time of our

tended to walk around the square as opposed to through it in general, even though in

visit, a tendency that could in turn be linked to the status of Næstved as a provincial


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See Section 3.3 (Crowding)

many instances, the shortest route from A to B was through the middle of the shared

would of course be the fact that there are far more people present at Amagertorv than

space and not around it. More specific flows of pedestrian traffic were observable as a

Axeltorv. We base this assumption on the statement that we find ourselves in the capital

result of this tendency. Consequently, the less crowded the shared space, the more the

of Denmark and furthermore on the sheer size of the square.

tendency to avoid walking through it and instead walk around it. This rather interesting

Another pattern that we can draw parallels between in the two squares is the way people

phenomenon present at both sites, (At Amagertorv during periods of lower levels of

use the personal distance. At Amagertorv it seems that this particular distance is the most

crowding and at Axeltorv in general which wasn’t crowded during any of our visits)

used compared to Axeltorv where the social distance is used a great deal more. An

could be explained by the fact that people may have felt more exposed and noticed

answer to this dissimilarity could again be based on the numbers of people in the square

walking across the square than they did if they walked around it, close to the protection

at the time of our observations. Overcrowding patterns tend to force people to get closer

of the buildings. Our comprehension of this matter would perhaps be enhanced by

than they would normally do. I.e. sometimes the function of the space determines the

observation of more shared spaces in different cultural contexts in order to establish

distance that people move in. In a train the massive amount of people contained in the

some sort of norm. For the moment however, our own assertions are the only prudent

small place, forces individuals to share the intimate or personal sphere with people that

guesses that can be made as we have little within our theoretical foundation that can

they wouldn’t normally share it with. The same thing seems to happen in Amagertorv

accurately account for the pedestrian path patterns described.

where the amount of people makes individuals use a relative close proxemic distance in

11.3 Comparison of Interactions

the course of their interactions. However we do stress that at this point it would be wrong to assume that Axeltorv doesn’t reflect such responses to overcrowding, because

When observing the two squares it became clear that the use of all four distances



it changes in terms of function as we have already discussed. One thing that we observed

present at both sites. We have therefore chosen to draw parallels as well as differences in

when making empirical investigation in Næstved was that Axeltorv has dual functions. It

relation to these four distances.

can work as a walkthrough that combines several streets of central Næstved. It can also, during Wednesday and Saturdays, change into a market where it functions as a social

In terms of proxemics in the two squares there are several things one can look into when

gathering point. Through these video observations it became clear that the distances in

trying to gain an idea of the similarities and differences in social interaction. A trend that

Axeltorv vary in terms of the function of the square130. When talking of the function of

one would notice could be that at Amagertorv the presence of the intimate distance is far

the squares it’s important to stress the fact that the tendency regarding change in

more common than at Axeltorv. We observed that it was possible to identify couples

functions seems to be similar in both Axeltorv and Amagertorv. It doesn’t seem like the

who moved and interacted within the intimate distance129. The obvious reason for this

function is more localised in relation to Amagertorv, indeed it can still vary as well as in Axeltorv. A street performer or public speaker can still change the function so that it may

128 129

Section 3,4 ( The four distances ) Section 3,4 ( intimate distance )

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Reference to video of Næstved on Tuesday and video of Næstved on Saturday.

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become more intimate131. Since the personal distance is the most used at Amagertorv one could assume that

The structural design of the two squares differs quite somewhat.(see descriptions of

conversation would take place at personal distance as well 132. In Axeltorv it seems to

Amagertorv and Axeltorv.) We focus a huge part of our analysis on the similarities of

take place at the social distance. During the time we spent filming the dynamics at

the two squares. In terms of aesthetics for instance, both squares have elaborate paving,

Axeltorv we came across some footage of two men conversing in the far phase of the

house beautifications of one sort or another (such as fountains, light posts and so on) and

social distance. This would have been far more difficult at Amagertorv since the amount

streamlined architecture. It is quite evident therefore that both squares reflect features of

of people would interfere in their interactional processes. An example of this can be seen

urban design that intend to create a zone of comfort and a dynamic and every-changing

in video number VII where a person waves and tries to reach contact with another

environment. Hence, the basal functions of the two squares, at its simplest form is that of

person, but because of all the interference in the square he has to stretch his neck and

accommodating the needs of the people who use them. This is acquiesced by facilitating

evade the disturbances from other people. Hence, Axeltorv gives people the opportunity

opportunities for shopping, walking through, meeting and so on and so forth. In this

to interact more freely by virtue of it being less crowded.

context, whilst Amagertorv’s function is determined by the amount of people in the square, Axeltorv’s is derived from what the square has to offer at a given time (for



instance if there is a market in it or not)

The following section is a discussion of the different aspects that we have looked into

An examination of how to change the nature and purpose of the function of the square

during the process of writing the project.

could enhance our comprehension of whether or not social norms in shared spaces can be altered. With respect to Axeltorv, the obvious challenge in connection to altering the

12.1 Architectural Aspects

function of the square is to attract an amount of people to the extent to which it could be compared to the amount of people interacting in Amagertorv. Despite this challenge,

Our major observation, in terms of the squares has been how they differ from the spaces

Næstved’s city planners and geographers are constantly trying to make the town a centre

around them with respect to the architecture within them which is one of the elements to

of cultural activities such exhibitions, concerts and the weekly market mentioned earlier.

create the place within the space. In our analysis we point out what elements needs to be present for the creation of secure surroundings. This section questions the validity of our

Notwithstanding, on a day-to day basis, Axeltorv’s crowding dynamics do not come close to matching those of Amagertorv.

assertions pertaining to the aforementioned elements. At Amagertorv, few official cultural events take place. More informal cultural events 131 132

Video ”Buskers Amgertorv I) Video Amagertorv VI

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take place in the form of street musicians entertaining the passing masses. When the

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topic of alteration of the function of shared spaces comes to mind, with respect to

physical layout, but shifting the norms in extent of the layout, for instance by placing

Amagertorv, we began thinking of what the central object at the site was and what

trees tightly around the fountain and toilet area with the purpose of creating a less

outcome would be yielded by altering it. As stated severally, the virtual structural layout

stressed atmosphere, like the one associated with the ambience of a park. It could also be

of Amagertorv is very guiding to the pedestrian, operating as a long two-way passage

interesting to place trees far apart from each other in the walking area with the purpose

before opening up midway through the square, by the Storkespringvand fountain and

of creating a calmer, less-stressed walking environment.

public toilets. It is at this end, where people have to choose their next street, and thus if one interprets the significance of the fountain as a tranquil place that represents equality

12.2 Body language

and calmness this is indeed a strategic location for its placement as this is where most of Amagertorvâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visitors pathsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cross.

Throughout the writing of this project, body language has been explored and investigated as a process or subset as it were of social interaction, and more specifically

During the course of our fieldwork, we learned that the dynamics of the squares in

as a component of interaction in various proxemic distances. Several key similarities

question change rapidly depending on the amount of people in the area. On the 28th of

between the expression of body language in Amagertorv and the manifestation of the

September, which was a workday, it was observed that the amount of people in the

same in Axeltorv have been found to exist. In similar vein, key disparities in this

square implied that people didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exploit the massive expanse of space in the square, but

concern have also been identified.

rather created activity clusters here and there. There was a tendency to keep out of the middle and stay to the sides close to the surrounding buildings. However this did not

The observation of the expression of body language in Amagertorv was more easily

occur at all on our second day of field research, which took place on a very crowded

observable than it was at Axeltorv due to the fact that the latter was generally a lot more

Saturday. The increase in the amount of people seemed to create movement patterns akin

crowded and as such, there were more interactional processes in stake. All the same,

to that of a mob, as opposed to preserving individual movement trends. These group

body language in Amagertorv was manifested overtly, explicitly and constantly. At

tendencies, present during periods of greater crowding such as market days minimized

Axeltorv, tangible expressions of body language were more sporadic and infrequent and

the effect of architectural dynamics on interaction by creating flowing clusters of

took place over larger proxemic distances as a rule of thumb.

interactional processes as opposed to allowing for free movement on an individual basis. This disparity may well be explained by the differences in the crowding levels at both Another example of alteration to the dynamics of a shared space would be a

sites, though it could just as easily be accounted for in the context of the cultural settings

reconstruction of its interior such as remodeling the fountain, benches and so on at

within which the interactions observed took place. A discussion of the use of larger

Amagertorv. We discussed the possibility of changing, not just the flow in terms of the

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proxemic distances to communicate amongst countryside dwellers as opposed to city

manifest themselves in a shared space. So far we have managed to look at how Hall’s

dwellers, an assertion made by both Edward T Hall and Allan Pease could factor in as

four proxemic distances are displayed in Amagertorv and Axeltorv and analyse in a

concerns the explanation of the differences in the display of body language at the sites in

comparative fashion how this differs from one place to the other. What hasn’t been

question. One could argue that country dwellers have a tendency to be more reserved

investigated is the meaning of these four distances and why it is important for us.

and reticent than city dwellers in their communicational exchanges with one another, not merely by their maintenance of larger proxemic distances but also by less overt

The main findings of this project are of great importance when it comes to us

expressions of their body language. It follows therefore that body language in Næstved

understanding how people interact. By looking into the matter of proxemics we have

was harder to observe than it was in the capital city contextual environment of

discovered that in terms of the distances that these distances are indeed present and

Copenhagen’s Amagertorv.

greatly influenced by the function of the squares that we have investigated. The importance of investigating these four distances in the squares analysed has aided our

In both Amagertorv and Axeltorv, crowding seemed to encourage more rapid flows of

understanding how humans interact with each other, one of our key motivations as far

pedestrian traffic and a lack of crowding created clusters of small groups dotted around

the writing of this project is concerned.

the areas in question. The need for human beings to have some sort of coherence and peace by being in situations that create familiarity can be said to be pivotal in explaining

When it comes to the discussion of whether our main findings compliment the work of

the expressions of body language via walking patterns and tendencies that we have

the theorists we’ve used to conduct our research, we can say that it there is definitely a

observed. A lack of familiarity created by one being more alone or certainly more

great deal of coherence. A good part of our observations concerning proxemic distances

isolated in situations that aren’t that crowded may inspire an urge to seek more

Overlap with the postulations of Edward T. Hall. This notwithstanding, we weren't able

familiarity and hence trigger more rapid walking. Conversely, the sense of belonging

to test the theories by Edward T. Hall as much as we would have liked (see

created by the presence of larger crowds may well generate more anonymity and

“Delimitations”) and thereby gain a much clearer view upon how our results could be

therefore mechanisms that seek to generate increased situational familiarity (such as

related to his.

faster walking pace) are not triggered. One could argue that when it comes to our analysis of social interaction in shared spaces

12.3 The matter of proxemics

there is in fact a very limited amount of things that one can focus on, taking into consideration the amount of time and resources that were put to use. This means that

One of our hypotheses in our project aims to ask the questions of how proxemics

our results in relation to that of other theorists, who have had more time and access to look deeper into research concerning this matter, are somewhat inconclusive as we

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haven’t been able to deduce wholeheartedly concrete conclusions. This in turn implies


that even though some of Hall’s theories may not fit perfectly with our observations, we can't necessarily state that he was wrong in his assertions.

Since the focus in this project is mainly about the influence of architecture on social interactions it would be interesting to take a further look into the influence of

One aspect that would have been interesting to take a deeper look at, in terms of

architecture in itself. Instead of comparing the two squares solely by looking at the

proxemics, is the cultural aspect of the social interaction. Hall makes a statement on

social interactions, we could have taken an architectonic comparative view and thereby

culture where he mentions that the level of voice changes in relation to what culture one

looked at how architecture differs from one culture to another.

finds themselves in. As valid as this may or may not be, we were unable to delve into detail on the matter as our sonar observations were not detailed enough.

Another interesting way to approach the project could be the distinction between

Another of Halls theories that could have been tested in an analysis and investigation is

intentional body language expressions and unintentional ones. This refers to us

the theory which involve people standing up and looking down on people sitting within

examining people’s gestures in order to detect if the way they act is voluntarily done or

the social distance which is said to have a dominating effect that can be observed in

unconsciously. Another aspect that could have been developed and included in the

conversations between businessmen and their secretaries for instance133. If one were to

project is the matter of power. Power can be expressed in several ways, in fact the

discuss alternative explanations of our findings one could take a look at other theories

architectural construction of spaces often has its basis in power related matters. By

and put our observations into a different perspective than that of Edward T. Hall. This

taking into consideration Michele Foucault’s theories on macro-level, we could have

leads us to the section on “Further research” that will be discussed in the following

investigated how these kinds of power related matters are manifested in shared spaces.

pages. For further research on a historical basis, it would be interesting to look into how the

13.0 Further research

square has changed through time and if the changes have had any influence on the social interactions in the square. Due to the limits of time and resources at our disposal, we did

When writing a project there are some particular things that have to be excluded from the beginning, in order to be able to make a thorough investigation of a subject. This

not have the opportunity to conduct our empirical work in other places, apart from Denmark. If we were to do further research in the same field but in different countries, it

does not mean that other subjects are not relevant to look into. For this reason we would

could have been interesting to observe how social interactions develop within different

like to propose some points that would be useful for further research in relation to our



Edward T. Hall: “The Hidden Dimension” 1966 page 114.

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on how we interact. This goes for all contexts of social interaction. Body language and

14.0 Conclusion

proxemics are highly influenced by the shared space. In terms of how we behave and how the four distances manifest themselves in the space, the function of the square can

When we set out to investigate the case of the shared space influence on social

change how the distances are expressed. This also applies to the matter of body

interaction, we did it because we wanted a deeper view upon what influences us as

language. If the square is crowded by people or influenced by the occurrence of a market

humans and how we communicate. In this concern, we found the issue of architectural

or any other event for that matter it shows in the manner in which body language is

influence and the variation of it from one space to another intriguing and fundamental to

exhibited. The same can be said of the manner in which the function of the square makes

the course of our study.

us act and also in relation to the style of the architecture both of which could affect the norms of the space. The reason we write â&#x20AC;&#x153;couldâ&#x20AC;? is because of the fact that through our

We approached the core of this project by investigating and observing how architectural

analytical process and by discussing the matter of norms, we were never able to fully

dynamics, body-language and social interaction are manifested in the capital of

prove that architecture influences the norms. The reason for this is that during the course

Denmark and in a smaller town located in the countryside. We defined the shared space

of our empirical research we weren't able to test or make any invention. Yet with

and thereby separated it from the term place, which was necessary in order to fully

different research we do believe that it would be possible to prove the existence of a

understand the concept. We also examined the matter of proxemics since we quickly

more tangible link between architectural dynamics and interactional patterns in shared

learned that the presence of the four distances were absolute and interesting to look at in

spaces. Lastly, one may conclude that as far as body language and proxemics are

terms of comparing the two different squares that we used.

concerned, there is a distinct and indisputable variation from one culture to another in terms of the function of the shared space and of the crowding within it. We based this

To achieve knowledge about these matters we studied different theories upon

conclusion on the results obtained from the analytical comparison.

architecture and human behavior. We used these theories to put our own research in

The project is of major importance even though we didn't fully answer some of the

perspective and to study different trends in terms of interaction. Thereby we tested our

questions in our thesis statement. It still allows us to learn a great deal about human

own expectation/hypothesizes and the theories of others.

interaction as well as the influence of a shared space. It has taught us how many different factors must be taken into account when reflecting on the way humans behave.

We learned that architectural matters played a big role in terms of the function of the

We set out to look upon some of the trends connected with proxemics and body

squares that we focused on. Ultimately, the greatest and most important results of our

language, but as we went further into the project we discovered that we weren't able to

investigation have been to confirm the fact that architecture has a significant influence

prove these trends wholeheartedly and concretely due to our lack of research. By and by, we learned that there might not even be a concrete answer to our questions. One can

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investigate, interpret and put our queries into a theoretical perspective but there will always be factors such as power, gender-matters, culture etc… to be taken into account.

Fiske, John. (1982) “Introduction to Communication studies”. Routledge

Furthermore, if it is possible to find an answer, it could quickly change because of time, weather or seasons and last but not least, cultural differences. Similarly, as we have seen

Hall, Edward T. (1966) “The Hidden Dimension”. Garden city.

from the examples of the book “The hidden dimension” by Edward T. Hall in our source criticism, it can also change through history and thus certain patterns that were observed

Howe, Thomas – Rowland, Ingrid. (1999) “Vitruvius,Ten Books on Architecture”.

can suddenly change over time.

Cambridge University Press

Jakobson,Roman - Halle, Morris. (1956) “Fundamentals of Language”. The Hague 15. 0 Bibliography Lefebvre, Henri. (1974) “The Production of Space”. Blackwell publishing.

Literature Pease, Allan. (1981) “Body Language”. Camel publishing company. Birdwhistell, Ray. (1975) “Introduction to kinesics, an annotation system for analysis of body motion and gesture”. University of Louisville.

Pugin, Augustus. (1853) “The true principles of pointed or Christian architecture : set forth in two lectures delivered at St. Marie's.” H.G. Bohn

Calhoun, John B. (1973) “Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population”. The royal Society of Medicine.

Youtube videos

Chandler, Daniel. (2007) “Semiotics: The basics”. Routledge

Amagertorv 1 ( Tuesday 28th September )

Cuthbert, Alexander R. (2006) “The Form of Cities”. Blackwell Pub

Amagertorv II ( Saturday 6th November )

Darwin, Charles. (1872) ”The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals ”

Amagertorv III ( Saturday 6 th November ) Amagertorv IV ( Saturday 6th November )

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Page 94 of 103 Amagertorv V ( Tuesday 28th September )

Amagertorv VI ( Tuesday 28 th September )

-Golden days: viden og fortælling

Amagertorv VII ( Saturday 6th November ) -Image of the four distances of Edward T. Hall: Næstved 1 ( Monday 4th October )

Næstved II ( Monday 4th October )

-Intro quote of architecture

Næstved III ( Saturday 6th November ) Næstved IV ( Saturday 6th November )

-Københavns kommune: Amagertorvs historie

Næstved V ( Saturday 6th November )


Buskers Amagertorv I (4thOctober)

-Map of Amagertorv & Map of Axeltorv: pictures

Buskers Amagertorv II (4thOctober)

Internet sources

-Cambridge dictionaries online

-Map of the square & the Stork fountain

-Dansk arkitektur center: Amagertorv

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Intro about: Urban design:

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-Næstved: Slattenpatten af Bjørn Nørgaard

16.0 Source criticism

-Oxford Online English Dictionary

This section contains an investigation of the sources used in this project. As we have

used these works as a basis for out assignment we have to take a further look into the validity of the sources applied. The points we are going to focus on in this matter are; if

-Roman Jakobson: sender-receiver model

the materials are primary or secondary sources, time contexts, the writer’s assumptions,

historical influences and lastly the credibility of the sources.

-Semiotics for Beginners

We have divided the sources into two different groups, primary sources and secondary

sources. The primary sources are the material from which we have used theories in order to answer the problem formulation. The secondary sources are the sources used to

-Sociology guide

support the theories and provide basic knowledge on other matters (i.e. historical

matters). It is important to state that this section does not contain an in-depth analysis of each


source but simply point out a few of the considerations we have done while using these


-The Free dictionary by Farlex : Urban design

Primary sources

-Visit Næstved: historie

Research videos

The videos of Axeltorv and Amagertorv is a product that we ourselves have created as a


tool for the empirical research. The videos give an objective reflection of what was happening at the squares yet the fact that the focal points of our filming were chosen

-Your Dictionary

subjectively on the second occasion of our filming implies that a degree of bias on our

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part may exist.

on. As Hall was American his research focuses mainly on American society and culture.

This is underscored by the fact that we, from the beginning had certain assumptions and

This is important to take into account as we apply some of his theories to completely

therefore had a tendency to film what we thought was relevant in order to apply specific

different kinds of societies (Næstved and Copenhagen). Another important thing to

theories to our observations later on in stead of just filming the square objectively.

notice is that the book “The Hidden Dimension” was written in 1966 while the research for the book was made about ten years earlier . This means that there is a great gap in

Furthermore it is important to consider the manner in which we have conducted the

relation to society and norms from the time the research was done to the time the book

research. As every researcher we each have a cultural background which naturally

was written and then again to modern day society.

influences our perception of what we see, thus limiting our objectivity in one way or another.

Roland Barthes Barthes was a 20th century French critic and philosopher who wrote vast works covering various subjects, notably those of literary theory and semiotics. Much of Barthes’ work

Allan Pease:

included literary critique, much of this published in French public media. Barthes was

A great success as a salesman became the beginning of the authorship for the Australian

influenced by Ferdinand de Saussure’s work and as his theory on signs borrows from

born Allan Pease. He has written 15 books in cooperation with his wife Barbara Pease

theories by Saussure of the same. Whether the source can be used as a first or second

and together they offer lectures on Body language. Pease is a recognized author in the

hand source is debatable. Another point to keep in mind is that Barthes was a Marxist

field of body language but it seems as if his research is mainly based on personal

which possibly have had an influence on his theories.

experiences from his time as a salesmen more than on empirical work. Furthermore Pease bases his theories on other researchers´ work(i.e. Edward T Hall) which could lead

Roman Jakobson

to a discussion on weather his material counts as a first hand or second hand source.

Author to a wide variety of literary works the Russian linguist Jakobson completed more

As the book is from 1981 it is still very relevant for modern day research, but it is worth

than 500 written works, and spent more than 60 years of his life abroad (teaching) as a

mentioning that the study of body language is still rather nascent.

result of the Russian revolution and Nazi occupation. Drawing on work by de Saussure and C.S Peirce, Jakobson made some of highly acclaimed works of language and even

Edward T. Hall

semiotics, and he is considered the founder of the structuralist analysis of language.

Edward T Hall was an anthropologist born and educated in the U.S.A and commonly

Additionally, Jakobson was interested in phonetics and poetic language, and his model

hailed as the creator of the concept of proxemics which he based most of his research

of communication had a great impact on the study of spoken language, which it was

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mostly used for. Alexander R. Cuthbert Alexander Cuthbert is currently a professor of Planning and Urban Development at the C.S. Peirce

University of New South Wales in Sydney. In addition, Cuthbert also possesses a

although educated as a scientist at Harvard University and contributing to several

doctorate from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has studied

acclaimed theories of science, Charles Sanders Peirce predominantly excelled as

architecture, urban design, urban planning and political science. It is important to be

philosopher. Apart from being a theorist of logic, he was most notably known as the

critical in relation to the political tendencies and motives Cuthbert’s background may

founder of semiotics and pragmatics. As the theories by Pierce are descended from

have had for his work as a researcher.

before 1914 it is relevant to investigate if and how the theories can be applied to modern day society.

Henri Lefebvre

Secondary sources

Henri Lefebvre was a French sociologist and philosopher. His book “The Production of Space” is from 1974 and is concerned with the relationship between bodies and spaces.


When applying the theories by Lefebvre it is essential to mention his significant political

When using the internet as a source it is especially important to be critical to the

opinions which could impose some bias in his capacity as a researcher.

information stated. Pages such as Wikipedia are available for everyone and the information found is therefore often second hand. In our project, such sources have in

Kevin Lynch

fact been employed but with these considerations taking into account.

Was an American city planner and author of the book “The image of the city” where he presents his theories on the influence of architecture on space. Like Edward Hall, his

17. Summary in danish

theories are based on research made in America and even though they are more general it is still important to take note of this fact when looking at the validity of our sources as we use the theories in our analysis of Næstved and Copenhagen. Lynch’s book was, like

I vores projekt har vi valgt at fokusere på hvordan social interaktion manifestere sig i det

Hall’s, written in the 1960s which therefore means that new and more updated

offentlige rum, med fokus på den danske kultur. For at danne et indblik i hvordan denne

information can be found on the subject.

interaktion finder sted valgte vi at sammenligne to forskellige danske kulturmøsntre i det offentlige rum. Vi valgte et rum i i storbyen København kaldet Amagertorv, og

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henholdsvis et rum i en byen Næstved anlagt længere ude på landet, kaldet Axeltorv.

Vi har yderlige fundet det nødvendigt at lægge fokus på hvordan den arkitektoniske faktor kommer til udtryk i det offentlige og yderligere hvordan dette har indflydelse på den sociale interaktion, herunder kropssprog og proxemics.

Vi valgte efter at have observeret de to forskellige torv, kun at fokusere på den sociale interaktion og lave analytisk sammenligning med fokus udelukkende på dette. Det gjorde vi fordi vi fandt dette emne motiverende i processen af at forstå hvordan mennesker kommunikere med hinanden.

Efter at have observeret de to forskellige torv, blev det klart at der kun var behov for at fokusere på den sociale interaktion og lave analytisk sammenligning med fokus udelukkende på dette. Dette blev gjordt vi fordi vi fandt dette emne motiverende i processen af at forstå hvordan mennesker kommunikere med hinanden.

Igennem disse redegørelser, diskussioner og fortolkninger blev det klart at det offentlige rums funktion, norm og arkitektur har stor betydning for hvordan den sociale interaktion manifestere sig i dette rum.

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