Have you ever wandered aimlessly through a noisy, busy city in search of a quiet place to chill out and relax? As cities become more urbanized, population increases and it is difficult to find tranquility when there is so much going on around you. Cities can adopt the following five ideas to bring silence amidst the chaos.
The Silent Church movement
In bustling urban areas with an overabundance of people, it can be difficult to find an accessible public space for some simple peace and quiet. So why not create those spaces? Located in Narinkka Square in Helsinki, Finland, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence is a place for people to find calmness amongst the hectic city surroundings.
Designed in 2012 by K2S Architects, its curved wood exterior, minimal interiors and high ceiling make the structure almost resemble an egg. The chapel is open to anyone and welcomes thousands of guests a year that seek out silence to reflect. With the positive impact generated by Kamppi Chapel of Silence, you can keep your ears open for more silent churches popping up in a busy city near you.
Escape the city in an urban forest
During this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, thousands of people visit Italy’s fashion capital to see the latest innovations in architecture and lifestyle design. Rushing from venue to venue can be exhausting and stressful in such a big crowd of people. Asif Khan designed a temporary installation for this event, offering an escape from the busy exhibition spaces.
The urban forest he set up in the inner courtyard of a former aristocratic palace consisted of red poles that made the visitor feel like they were wandering between slim tree trunks. The poles provided shade and hammocks were hung between them for people to rest and stare at the blue sky. Asif Khan’s urban forest may not be what you first imagine when you think of forest space in cities, but the installation demonstrates that alternative designs can provide a similar impact.
Finding hush from your shopping rush
Sometimes the excitement of a buzzing big-box store can quickly turn into a stressful and over-stimulating experience. London department store Selfridges opened The Silence Room for shoppers to find peace in these moments of restlessness.
The interior was designed by Alex Cochrane Architects. Visitors take off their shoes and walk through a dark hallway, before entering the softly-lit room. Cushioned grey felt panels line the ground and perimeter seating, creating a minimal, comfortable surrounding. This atmosphere encourages people to slow down and silence their voice; they meditate, sleep and some even pray. Providing a space like this for shoppers can be mutually beneficial since they can leave The Silence Room feeling revitalized during their positive guest experience.
A travel guide to the disconnected world
Living in cities not only means constant buzz and noise, but it may also include the need to be constantly online. White Spots is an app that brings users to places that are disconnected from the internet. Using virtual reality, the app shows digital networks that surround you in real time. The app’s world map takes you on a journey to unconnected places across your continent.
To take things one step further and truly escape from the omnipresent digital cloud, the route planner directs users to the nearest so-called white spot – a place free of electromagnetic waves. Be careful, these places can be fifty kilometers or more away, depending on your current urban location. It’s interesting how White Spots uses technology as a vehicle for people to escape it.
Meditation on wheels in NYC
When it comes to mid-day meditation, convenience is key for urban dwellers. That’s why companies like Calm City in New York are making it easy to clear your head in the middle of a stressful work day. To offer a mobile meditation space, they converted a classic RV into a mini oasis that travels to locations throughout the busy downtown business core.
The interior is simple and comfortably seats nine guests – space to relax and follow a ten-minute audio-guided meditation. Users find this form of meditation particularly beneficial because it is quick, preprogrammed and they don’t need to travel a great distance to reach it. For companies that want to improve mental health for employees, they can take inspiration from Calm City and make on-the-go meditation part of their workday routine.
These five ideas highlight the rising demand for calmness in our crowded and connected cities. When it comes to planning cities of the future, we need to create places for urbanites to consciously go for rest. In doing so, citizens can have a better sense of well-being in their urban surroundings.