Ever notice something different while walking through a public space in a foreign country? I have. As I was strolling through the city of Brussels, I noticed some differences in landscape design in comparison to the United States which I both enjoyed and wished we had back home.

While I was window shopping at one of the squares, I noticed a peculiar landscape element that I had not really seen before.

Photo: Roxana Marashi

Photo: Roxana Marashi

Normally landscape architects like to add seating areas to small urban plazas or squares. But this one had something different: a type of leaning furniture which I failed to identify by name and designer. The curvaceous red and black leaning public park feature reminded me a lot of Martha Schwartz’s Jacob Javits Plaza design in New York, except hers was green instead of red.

NYC Civic Center Federal Plaza photo by Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons

NYC Civic Center Federal Plaza photo by Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons

Not only could this outdoor furniture be used to lean against during a networking event or casual social gathering, but it also served as a winding table for drinks. People could gather to talk over coffee during the day, then enjoy a glass of beer later in the evening. What was interesting was the simplicity of the design, and how it made the most of its relatively small section of the square.

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IMG_1717

Photos: Roxana Marashi

Another peculiar landscape design I stumbled upon while traveling was a channel carved right through a public park. People seemed to enjoy the channel even though it had no fencing, railing, or plant screening around it. My understanding is that Brussels has fewer liability threats than in the United States. If a child begins to run down the hill (as most children do) and falls into the channel, the city is not held liable, nor the designer. It is simply an innocent accident, one that Belgians accept and understand as part of growing up.

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