The ‘outdoor cafe plaza

…or outdoor cafe piazza, to be more authentic.

While we took a look at the different types of places that make an outdoor cafe scene, the outdoor cafe plaza is the holy grail. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be seeing such places in the U.S. for another 10-20 years, but now’s the time to start planning to see them even in that time frame.

What makes a true outdoor cafe plaza/piazza?

Pedestrian-only.
– All four edges of the plaza are fronted by buildings, without being divided by driving lanes. One should be able to cross from one building to another without having to look both ways first.
– All buildings are human-scaled, in that they look like they’ve been crafted by humans, not cranes. Being in a plaza fronted by larger, more monumental buildings feels like you’re trapped somewhere.
– Naturally, the ground floor uses are cafes, bistros, restaurants and bars, and who wouldn’t mind either living or having a stay in a room on the third floor, an office or work studio on the second?
– Lots of creative events, from movie watching to pillow fights to outdoor concerts.

The major impediment to building what is a ubiquitous amenity in many other countries is that the potential private and public investors of such places feel there isn’t enough interest in an auto-oriented society. Of course, creatives know differently, and not only that, we’re now in the wikipedia age where we can manifest our own destinations. Or in practical terms, crowdsource a community of 10,000 future patrons for an outdoor cafe plaza and there’s a good chance you’ll see it happen before ten years.

Image of outdoor cafe piazza in Warsaw, Poland by cchall