The last decades of the twentieth century produced a vigorous debate in architecture and urbanism on the transformation of public space: on the one hand discourses that lamented the ‘end of public space’ (e.g. Sorkin 1992) and, on the other, contrasting opinions that advocated new forms of public space located in private spaces for collective use (shopping malls or sports centres) or in alternative spaces such as wastelands or parking lots (e.g. Chase et al. 1999). Some authors voiced warnings against the alarming developments in society at large, which seemed to threaten the basic assumptions on which democracy and the welfare state are founded, while others tended to take a more optimistic position in accepting the challenge to design for new programmes in the realm of leisure, sports, shopping or transportation.