Every city has its serene spots, no matter how busy and loud it appears. There will always be quiet park benches, lonely spots in certain alleyways, a building where few people enter. Jason Sweeney’s Stereopublic project attempts to map these sanctuaries amid the chaos, helping us de-stress from whatever’s going on in our lives.
Sweeney, an artist and musician from Australia, started the project after becoming stressed in Melbourne. “As a person who finds crowds quite confronting, I started to think about how we can coexist in our cities, and have that experience of quiet and being individual. It started from living in that city and seeing how my anxiety levels rose from being there,” he says.
Since launching the site and iPhone app last year, 15 cities in four countries have been “activated,” and about 800 places identified. The most popular are in Melbourne, Australia and Sheffield, in the U.K.
Residents of the cities plug in a location and add a picture. Sweeney then adds a music clip to go with it. You can use the app to go on “audio walks.” Put in your location, how far you want to go, and it identifies places to stroll to. “It is a guided meditation where you go from one space to another,” Sweeney says. “It may be crazy going down one street. But you know that, if you walk 15 minutes, you’re going to find somewhere quiet.”
Sweeney’s favorite quiet places are not conventional hideaways. “In Adelaide, there’s an car park underneath the law library that some people might find creepy or strange,” he says. “I like the potential for making comfortable spaces in places like that. I had this whole vision of setting up benches and tables down there, so students could sit down out of the sun.”
Sweeney now wants to expand to further cities–Barcelona, Copenhagen and Toronto are next–and create a genuine global quietness map. If you’re interested in putting your location on the site, get in touch via the website.