For decades now, we have photographed street life, documenting how people interact and live their lives in public. In this series, which we call Social Life for All, we look at various different groups and how each of them spends time in public spaces. We've previously delved into how women use and move through public spaces, how children bring a unique and joyful energy to them and where men connect with each other. We've observed the kind of places each group is drawn to, where they spend the most time and where they seem to enjoy themselves the most. These photos give us a glimpse into how people shape and are shaped by their environments. Knowing what different groups of people like and need from their public spaces gives us inspiration for how to make better public places that are welcoming for everyone.

When trying to identify the great places around us, a good approach is to look for where the couples are. A pair of people spending time together can be lovers, acquaintances, and everything in between. When you see a couple comfortable enough to sit and engage in conversation or affection, you know you've stumbled upon a good spot!

The best places are those that encourage expressions of affection, caring and vulnerability.

Focal points and the selfie

Places that make us smile, think, or stir our curiosity, such as statues, fountains, and works of art, can break the ice and start interesting conversations that help us bond. They can also nudge us to save the moment with a photo of the spot and our significant other.

Taking a selfie is a great excuse to get close.

Focal Points are Essential for Public Spaces
What a focal point is varies greatly with each square. Sometimes it is as simple as a good spot to sit, a fountain, or a statue on which kids can play and climb. The ones we are interested in are the ones that are swarming with people.

Senior couples

The sweeter the love, the longer it lasts!

Young couples

Young couples can often be found in the middle of the action – biking, climbing, and lounging in unconventional spots. Young love can't be contained by chairs and tables.


Enjoying a performance or work of art together sparks joy and creates great memories to look back on.


One of the best ways to bond as a couple is to enjoy the music together and share a dance. Music and dance floors have a unique way of gathering crowds and bringing a place to life.


Pets are a welcome "third wheel" that bring joy to a couple's day out.


No good place is complete without food, especially the kind you can share.

The special place in Munich's Victual Market has small stands where people can get really close...and intimate as a family, couple or friends


Markets are wonderful destinations for a day of exploration and shopping with a loved one. There is so much to see, touch, smell and taste at the market.

Markets - Social Life Project
Using Markets to Bring Social Life Back Everywhere: Markets are hubs of community life; People are drawn to markets that attract a diverse set of visitors; they tend to shop at markets with friends and family; and the energy of a market allows us to “bump” into neighbors and friends, because a trip…

Places for affection are at the center of everything

When we think of romantic spots we might think of flowers, music, beautiful views, etc. Basically, any place that makes people feel comfortable to express love can be considered romantic. What's more, the kind of environment that supports affection also supports joy and social life.


A bench is the perfect spot to have a rest and share a tender moment.

Comfort on the curb

Streets where cars drive slowly are streets where people feel comfortable spending time together on the sidewalk.


A kiss shared between lovers is the seal of a great place!


Comfort and contentment can be found in an embrace.

Luxembourg Gardens

Some places are undeniably romantic. Flowers, hidden corners, fountains and plenty of places to sit together and lounge make Luxembourg Gardens a perfect spot for love.

Paris Plage

Paris Plage is one of those beloved places that has something for everyone. Activities, seating and beautiful sights are aplenty wherever you look. Among its numerous offerings, there are love seats for two and cozy corners to curl up in together.

Not every setting is romantic. Places that lack atmosphere are more likely to encourage couples to keep a distance than to get close.


Avoidance isn't always a bad thing, however. Sometimes we avoid people to give them privacy during intimate moments.

Couples in public around the world

Love is universal. Wherever there are great places, there will be people there enjoying them together.

The design of our environments invites and supports different kinds of visitors and behaviors. If we want to encourage more love, more affection, and more tenderness, we need to create places where couples can thrive. We need places full of comfort, beauty, security and the vibrant energy of social life.

Public Spaces Where Women Thrive
A photo essay that celebrates the social life of women in public spaces where women can thrive.
Public Spaces Where Kids Thrive: The Places That Work for Kids Work for Everybody
Kids bring energy and enthusiasm for life into public places and public spaces where kids thrive are great for people of all ages.
Men Hanging Out - Public Spaces Where Men Thrive
Men’s need for social connection is often overlooked, but this cannot be the case in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness. This photo essay looks at where male social life thrives.
Pets: The Ultimate Social Connectors
‘Pet-friendly’ places go a long way to restoring the social life of our cities.

Who we are:

The Place Man, A Documentary
We have recently created a documentary, The Place Man, about our work in placemaking over the last 50 years, made by the wonderful Guillermo Bernal. It got us thinking about the state of the placemaking movement and what’s next.
The mission of the Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection in public spaces around the globe. Our work grows out of more than 50 years devoted to building the global placemaking movement. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of leaders who together accelerate placemaking as a way to create healthy, inclusive, and beloved communities. Through our online publication, presentations, campaigns, and catalytic projects, we can create transformative impact on communities everywhere.

If you are interested in our helping to build a community-wide campaign or catalytic interventions, presentations, exhibits, and more or supporting the cause contact us.
"There are more and more of us fighting for a different vision of the world—a world that takes care of our most precious resources: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we share." - Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, France
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