WORLD HABITAT DAY
OCTOBER 5 2015
PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL
PROF. ANUP DAVE ARCHITECT
at the 23rd Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat,
member states mandated UN-Habitat to consolidate
agency-wide work on public space,
to develop and promote
public space policy,
coordination, disseminate knowledge and
directly assist cities in public space initiatives.
The UN’s Open Working Group charged with drafting the 2016-2030 Sustainable
Development Goals has
an eleventh Goal 11
‘Build cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.’
of the proposed targets
set out is “by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible,
green and public spaces,
particularly for women and children,
older persons and
persons with disabilities”.
The character of a city is defined by its streets and public spaces. From squares and
boulevards to neighbourhood gardens and children playgrounds,
public space frames city image.
The connective matrix of
streets and public spaces forms the skeleton of the city upon which all else rests.
Public space takes many spatial forms,
including parks, the streets, sidewalks and footpaths that connect,
playgrounds of recreation,marketplaces,
but also edge space between buildings or roadsides which are often important
spaces for the
urban poor and in many contexts beaches are also public spaces.
This does not mean that all public spaces are
“open spaces” – a library, a school or other public facilities are also public spaces.
Public space forms the
setting for a panoply of activities - the ceremonial festivities of the multi-cultural city,
trade of the commercial city,
the movement of goods and people, provision of infrastructure, or the setting for
community life and
livelihoods of the urban poor – e.g. street vendors or waste-pickers.
Characteristics of a Great Public Space include:
Promotes human contact and social activities.
Is safe, welcoming, and accommodating for all users.
Has design and architectural features that are visually
Promotes community involvement.
Reflects the local culture or history.
Relates well to bordering uses.
Is well maintained.
Has a unique or special character.
Its important to Prepare guidelines for the design of successful squares,
Chowks,market places and plazas, streets
Evaluate existing public places, and make recommendations to improve their
ability to generate health, social life, community and civic engagement
Review designs for public places to assess how they will impact health, and the
quality of social life they are likely to generate,
and recommend ways to strengthen their ability to generate good health,
community and social capital
the following elements impact quality of social life and community:
Size and form of the public space
Scale, articulation and character of surrounding buildings
Design and location of entrances to the public place
Pattern of land use around the public place and in the vicinity
Quality of surrounding urban fabric
Streetscape and landscape design features
Design for hospitality and comfort
Balance of transportation modes in and around the square
Public space management
A well-functioning public space serves many important functions.
It is a catalyst for social interaction and community. It builds social
capital by cementing relations among frequent users.
It is a catalyst for civic engagement. It creates a social immune system
that protects physical health and reduces social problems.
In bringing inhabitants together, public places contribute to a more
democratic way of life and encourage all to linger, share observations
and understand varied perspectives.
At its best, the public space is an incomparable teacher of
social skills and attitudes;
children and youth learn through observation, imitation and
participation how to relate and interact with a diversity of others
(young and old, poor and well-to-do, healthy and disabled).
“Public space or a public place is a
place where anyone has a right to come
without being excluded because
economic or social conditions (fees,
paying an entrance, being poor, ...).”
Webster's Online Dictionary
What makes a great city are the public spaces within it.
Cities in history are remembered for their public spaces,
the Greek Agora,
the European squares and
Indian ‘chowks’ (quandrangle open spaces).
The experience of ‘public’ is the experience of a city. This
is as true for the visitors as for her inhabitants.
In fact, public spaces have great value for the inhabitants
than the visitors, as these spaces contribute greatly to
enhance the experience of lived reality.
Mexico City, one of the world’s great
megalopolises, with more than 20 million
people, is struggling to create more green
space for its ever-expanding population.
Estimates put the amount of green space in the
city at just a few percent. To remedy this
problem, a team of architects, landscape
architects, planners, and urban designers with
Mexican firms FR-EE, FRENTE arquitectura,
RVDG, and Mario Schjetnan GDU will transform
Avenida Chapultepec, one of the city’s oldest
and busiest streets, into an elevated, 1.3-
kilometer-long “cultural corridor” expected to
open by 2017. The project will overhaul a 10-
lane highway that runs west to east between
Chapultepec Park and the center of the city.
Fernando Romero, the lead
designer with FR-EE, explains his
thinking: “The term ‘Complete
Street’ means to reshape the
traffic flow and the public spaces.
This project inverts the numbers:
if nowadays, 70 percent of the
area belongs to cars, and 30
percent to the pedestrians, the
cultural corridor chapultepec is
going to change these numbers
by generating a new space in
order to have 70 percent belong
to the pedestrians and the
remaining 30 percent for the
organization of the traffic space.”
In 2011, a new pedestrian bridge was unveiled in Lujiazui in
the Pudong district of Shanghai. This large scale circular
pedestrian overpass enables pedestrians to avoid traffic at
the round-about terminus of Lujiazui Road.
The bridge provides access to the Oriental Pearl Tower
connecting financiers to leisure areas such as shopping malls
and cafes, a transit station and office buildings. The bridge sits
almost 20 feet above the street, with numerous escalator
stairway entrances and exits. The walkaway is 5.5 meter high
and can fit 15 people walking side by side.
If volumes are too high, even
the best intersection design is
challenged. Xaimen, China
Nanpu Bridge Shanghai, China
artists/architects rebecca bayer
and matthew soules present their
collaborative project ‘city fabric’.
the piece was created in
partnership with 221A gallery, and
the burrard arts foundation, and is
installed beneath the south side of
the burrard bridge in vancouver,
the Burrard bridge in
the Burrard bridge in Vancouver, British
Chengyang Bridge, Maan, China -
64 mt. - Linxi River
The Lego-Brücke (English: Lego Bridge) is
a concrete beam bridge which crosses over
the Schwesterstraße in the North Rhine-
Westphalian city of Wuppertal, Germany. In
2011, graffiti and street artist Martin Heuwold
repainted the bridge in the style of Lego bricks,
receiving national and international media attention
for his work. The work was awarded the Deutscher
Fassadenpreis Advancement Prize in 2012.
In Sony Studios in Culver City, a new four-year project on the 40-
acre campushas transformed the day-to-day experience. A 94-foot
rainbow by artist Tony Tasset now welcomes visitors. Where the art
hits the ground plane, there’s an interesting “conversation between
art and landscape.” Meanwhile, the actual rainbow is viewable
from miles around.
Every year, the small Switzerland ski town
village of Vercorin asks artists to come and
create works during the summer months.
„Cercle et suite
JODHPUR , Rajasthan , India
Bangkok , Floating Market
Dal Lake , Floating Market
Roombeek is a commercial street and also the urban core of the
district from Enschede, The Netherlands. Its asymmetrical design,
which widens and narrows along the street, accentuates its different
spatial features. The base of the stream is treated with a rough
structure that reduces the flowing speed of the water and creates a
constant reflective pattern on the water surface. A distinctive
composition of sharp edged stepping stones refers to the randomness
of natural processes and is also a reference to the fireworks explosion.
Buenos Aires Pedestrian streets
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest
city of Argentina,
and the second-largest metropolitan
area in South America.
And Play Area