The writer was interviewed when she visited the CCCB to give a lecture titled “The Unmapped City”, which closed the “Open City” lecture cycle.
In the interview, Shamsie defined public space as a place in any city in which everyone has the right to be present. A widely differing range of people come together in these spaces where they must learn to share which, she believes, is one of the great virtues of public space. Nonetheless, she also talks about some of the problems of and threats to the public spaces in some cities. She says that, for some people, “even though a space is public that’s no reason for them to be there”. Hence, the fact that public spaces are public and free of charge is not always sufficient since some people are more concerned about feeling secure in such places, in the sense that nobody will make them feel strange, or that they don’t belong. Accordingly, whether a space is really public also depends on the attitude of the citizens towards it.