Names vs The Nothing

New Public Sites is an investigation into some of the invisible sites and overlooked features of our everyday public spaces. These are the liminal spaces within cities that are not traditionally framed as “public space” because, quite frankly, they are often ugly and unpleasant, the leftover scraps of urban design centered on the automobile. By giving these places succinct, fun and poetic names and leading people on playful walking tours, Graham Coreil-Allen says we can help start a discourse about our public spaces and how we want to envision them for the future. You can download a pdf of the New Public Sites book here.

A sun path between two highway overpasses.

The New Public Sites walking tours will be included in Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

Graham giving a tour of a Void.

Stay tuned at the end of the episode for a message from 99% Invisible producer, Sam Greenspan, on the side of I-40 on his way to his new job with me in Northern California.

Sam Greenspan in a Freeway Eddy.


  1. Kevin

    My favorite word for these spaces is “Spandrel”: the space between two arches in .

    Stephen Jay Gould also adapted the term it in the context of evolutionary biology. “Evolutionary biology needs such an explicit term for features arising as byproducts, rather than adaptations, whatever their subsequent exaptive utility.” So do places!

  2. Adam L

    I was fortunate enough to visit Edinburgh, Scotland, recently, and something that surprised me was that most of the roundabouts (of which there are many) had small parks in them. And much to my surprise, there were people in most of them, and it seemed like in many cases people were actually just hanging out there. I’d never seen anything like that in my native US.

  3. Eva

    Thank you for confirming Sebastian yells Moonchild (his mother’s name, right?) I had never been able to confirm that. Always bugged me (someone told me it was Fantasia which sounded silly). Well moonchild sounds silly and dated too but good to know.

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