When we think squares – we think a perfectly symmetric geometric shape. The name which invokes a symmetric imagery has been at the center of many disruptive developments across the world. Removed from the theoretical geometric space and brought into practical urban public spaces, these squares all of a sudden became household names and ushered in unthinkable revolution. I know human beings react differently to different type of spaces and pseudo-scientific fields like Feng Shui or Vaastu Shashtra might also have some inputs regarding shapes and energy levels. All said and then Squares have become epitome of humanitarian struggle against indifferent authority. Squares in urban spaces was an European concept that have been improvised and adapted by other schools of city planners and architects. Many improvised and adapted versions of public squares have had presences in many countries outside of Europe.
In the modern times, lot has changed due to continual human struggle against disturbing but established and accepted notions/norms. We witnessed people, questioning a form of economic development championed by capitalist, protesting against age old form of governance, challenging people in power to formulate rules for benefit of larger section of population, upholding the morality of a State in execution of its duty; and many more. Again, at the center of most of these protests are Squares. Squares that today have become synonymous with human struggle for a dignified living.
The squares that have become popular for the platform it gave for people to speak and be heard and hold anybody in authority accountable are:
- Tiananmen Square – Beijing China – Student uprising 1979
- Shahyad Square – Tehran, Iran – Anti-Election protests 2010-11
- Times Square – New York, USA – Occupy Wall Street 2011
- Tahrir Square – Cairo, Egypt – Arab Spring 2011-12
- Al-Tahrir Square – Sana’a Yemen – Arab Spring 2011-12
- Shahbag Square – Dhaka, Bangladesh – Protest for justice against war crimes 2013
These are the ones that one can recall without much effort, am sure there are more. Place de la Concorde or the French Revolution square comes to my mind. A square at the center of as significant a historical event as the French revolution in the 18th century.
Ofcourse, only history can be the true judge of success or failure of such protests/revolution, We live in times where there are inequities and many other social evils that question the very core of human beliefs. However, we should take heart in the fact that, whenever people have come together and voiced their concern unanimously – those voices, through conviction and constancy of purpose have brought unprecedented change. Squares could be mere co-incidence!