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Members of the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) were recently surveyed about their favorite spaces. Responses were varied and had many insightful comments and suggestions, which will be shared and discussed with everyone here over the next few months.

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Throughout the survey a few locations were consistently mentioned, with nearly all of the most popular responses located right here in the United States. But this week, we’re setting our sights farther afield: the best places to see abroad.

Italy and France dominated across the board when you looked at the international responses, and were at the top of the list among the favorite iconic spaces, designed spaces, and absolute favorite places abroad. Specific sites in each country that were mentioned multiple times included:

Italy
• Piazza del Campo, Siena
• Piazza San Marco, Venice
• Piazza del Popolo, Rome
• Spanish Steps, Rome
• St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
• Parco dei Mostri, Bomarzo
• Villa d’Este, Tivoli

France
• Versailles
• Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris
• Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
• Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
• Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
• Place des Vosges, Paris
• Vaux-le-Vicomte, Maincy

Let’s look at some of the reasons why Italy and France were such powerhouses among the international responses.

Italy’s piazzas, paradigms of public space
Piazza del Campo, Siena:
“All the elements combine to make it a perfect public space: scale, materials, activities, and the incredible color of the light!”
“It is one of the most pleasant and functional urban spaces on earth. The scale is perfect, the design is elegant and understated, and the coffee is superb.”

Piazza del Popolo, Rome:
“Large spaces devoted for public enjoyment with such history surrounding it. Being there for an event when the entire piazza is filled with people is incredible.”

Villa d’Este, exemplar of the Renaissance garden
“This garden is a marvel, and it says everything about water, nature, humanity, class, magic, myth. It is its own world and it makes one think.”
“A magnificently designed and implemented space.”

Versailles, the apex of the Ancien Régime
“Grandeur and detail in one location. Opulent, beautiful, amazing.”
“All the proportions are amazing.”
“The scale, detail and history. There will never be anything privately designed like it and the fact that it is now a public space is important.”

Vaux-le-Vicomte, Baroque precursor of Versailles
“Brilliant manipulation of sight lines and grades to achieve drama and surprise. Astonishing anamorphic manipulations.”

Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris’ most elegant boulevard
“It is a place where people become part of the landscape. The cafes spill out on to the streets. Every tiny detail regarding aesthetics has been attended to. The experience of walking the corridor is entertaining. There are things to do and people to watch. The buildings create enclosure and they have continuity of architecture. The plant material has a delicateness to it. There are magnificent focal points.”
“It reflects the best of human intention and craft, from the grand overview to the elegant details.”



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