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. After presenting the conditions of publicity –visibility, accessibility and appropriation – the author tests how they can affect public life by using design as a research methodology through actual spatial interventions such as the one realized in the makerspace of Bibliotheek Gorredijk (the Netherlands). Finally, the paper concludes with recommendations for the architect’s role in cultural building activation.
Keywords: Public Space, Architectural Design, Cultural Building Activation