In late modernity’s context of uncertainty and change, humans seek common ground to interact and negotiate common meanings. Because cultural buildings host the negotiation of collective cultural definitions, they can be a tool to counteract urban challenges by strengthening public life and public values. Nevertheless, this poses a challenge for architectural practice to uncover the design factors that can activate the agency of cultural buildings in the public sphere. This research aims to elucidate which design factors affect public life through design interventions in existing cultural buildings. First, public space theory details the conditions of publicity. Later, an analysis of SESC Pompéia cultural centre by Lina Bo Bardi exemplifies relevant design factors affecting public life. Using design as a research methodology, the author tests the extracted theoretical and practical design factors affecting public life with actual spatial interventions realized in Bibliotheek Gorredijk (the Netherlands), ultimately compiling recommendations for cultural building activation.
Keywords: Public Space, Architectural Design, Cultural Building Activation