False Friendliness: Photoshopped People in Public Spaces

Proposals for new projects arrive on city desks everyday showing vibrant public plazas full of people. But too often those spaces fail to attract people in the way they were portrayed. Are Photoshopped people a deliberate falsehood?


Children run playfully about, chasing pigeons. A jogger passes by, and a businesswoman chats on a cell phone. Seniors perch on the edge of a fountain, watching the throngs of people as they pass.

In fact, there are masses of people keeping these folks company, filling an imaginary public space like a dance troupe on a stage. So it goes in the world of architectural renderings and development proposals, where the desire to show that public spaces can become vibrant and active results in a flurry of Photoshopped humans filling the frame.

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