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Placemaking and the
Future of Cities


DRAFT


Fall 2012
Placemaking and the
                 Future of Cities

By Project for Public Spaces,Inc.
Produced under the auspices of the UN-HABITAT Sustainable Urban Development
Network (SUD-Net) with funding from the United Nations Federal Credit Union
Table Of Contents

Why Public Spaces Matter										                                              1
				
Transforming Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces: About the Program 		   2

The Challenge											                                                        3

About This Handbook										                                                   4

Ten Ways to Improve Your City									                                          7
	
	     1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces							                                7
	     2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations				                 8
	     3. Build Local Economies Through Markets						                            9
	     4. Design Buildings to Support Places							                              10
	     5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda				               11
	     6. Reinvent Community Planning							                                     12
	     7. Power of 10										                                                  13
	     8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda					                        14
	     9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment					                15
	     10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces				                   16
	
Case Studies												                                                        17		
								
		           Case study: Medellín, Colombia
		           Case study: Santiago, Chile
		           Case study: Durban, South Africa
		           Case study: Melbourne, Australia
		           Case Study: Detroit, United States
		           Case Study: Nairobi, Kenya
		           Case study: Nairobi, Kenya
		           Case study: Bogotá, Colombia
		           Case study: Gyrumi, Armenia
		           Case study: Brno, Czech Republic
		           Case study: Mexico
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Why Public Spaces Matter

“What defines a character of a city is its public space, not its private space. What defines the value of
the private assets of the space are not the assets by themselves but the common assets. The value of
the public good affects the value of the private good. We need to show every day that public spaces
are an asset to a city.” -- UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos i Matheu

“You have to turn everything upside down to get it right-side up.” --Fred Kent, President, Project for
Public Spaces

Building inclusive, healthy, functional, and productive cities is perhaps the greatest challenge facing
humanity today. There are no easy solutions. And yet a key part of the puzzle lies right in the heart of
the world’s urban areas: the public spaces.

Healthy public spaces are the springboard for revitalizing communities, whatever they are and wher-
ever they are. That an attractive, active, well-functioning public space can jumpstart economic de-
velopment in a community – from a small rural town to a big city – is being recognized increasingly
around the world.

Public spaces are a vital ingredient of successful cities. They help build a sense of community, civic
identity and culture. Public spaces facilitate social capital, economic development and community
revitalization. This is as true in the Global South as it is elsewhere in the world.

Every community has some sort of public space, even if it is not immediately apparent. Sometimes it
is obvious -- a shady park with walking paths and benches; a boulevard lined with sidewalks, a grand
plaza surrounded by government buildings. But public space is also what we find in between private
spaces, and is not always recognized or honored as public. Back alleys, neglected courtyards, and
stairways may escape our notice -- but these are nonetheless among a city’s most underutilized and
potentially valuable assets. Because they belong to everybody, they are perceived as belonging to
nobody. And yet if they are claimed, and owned, and developed, they can be harnessed to strengthen
and enrich their communities.

When municipalities are struggling economically, investment in public spaces may be seen as a non-
essential response. In the Global South, establishing the minimum conditions for proper public space
— safety and cleanliness— can be a particular challenge. But the truth is that even a small investment
in quality public space delivers a manifold return to the cities with the foresight to see its value. By
strengthening the social fabric, providing economic opportunity, and boosting the well-being of citi-
zens, public space can make limited resources go further and enrich the community both socially and
monetarily.




                                                                                                              1
Transforming Cities through Placemaking &
    Public Spaces: About the Program
    In 2011, UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a cooperative agreement, Transform-
    ing Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces, to harness the power of public space for the
    common good. By recognizing and developing the positive potential of their public spaces, cities can
    enhance safety and security, create economic opportunity, improve public health, create diverse public
    environments, and build democracy.

    The five-year cooperation agreement between UN-HABITAT and PPS is multifaceted in its goals. It
    aspires to raise international awareness of the importance of public space; to foster a lively exchange
    of ideas among partners; and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists,
    and other civic leaders about the benefits of the Placemaking methodology. The cooperation is global in
    scope, with activities at the city level, actively engaging local partners in the important work of improving
    their own communities.

    In a century where the “Right to the City” is increasingly being recognized as a fundamental human
    entitlement, this partnership is helping to advance the development of cities where people of all income
    groups, social classes, and ages can live safely, happily, and in economic security.

    The United Nations Human Settlements Program, UN-HABITAT, is mandated by the UN General As-
    sembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing
    adequate shelter for all. The United Nations Millennium Declaration recognizes the dire circumstances
    of the world’s urban poor. It articulates the commitment of Member States to improve the lives of at
    least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, a charge that falls under UN-HABITAT’s mission.

    The Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) is an innovative platform for partners
    engaged in, or willing to work with, interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable urban development. It
    brings on board local authorities, institutions, the private sector, and other partners specialized in the
    urban field. Through SUD-Net, practical collaboration with and among networks has been enhanced.

    SUD-Net has selected yearly themes that can demonstrate multisectoral approaches to urban develop-
    ment and which will promote interdepartmental cooperation. Public space is the current theme and
    focus of SUD-Net. SUD-Net recognizes that public space development is multidisciplinary and therefore
    reflects the goals of SUD-Net in bringing various disciplines and sectors together to form a strengthened
    and comprehensive approach to urban development.

    Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (PPS), a nonprofit organization established in 1975, has pioneered a
    “Placemaking” approach to public spaces. This approach is based on a belief that it is not enough to
    simply develop design ideas and elements to revitalize a public space. A public involvement process that
    defines and responds to community conditions and needs from the outset is one of the most critical
    factors in designing a successful public space. PPS has developed a number of planning tools designed
    to enable communities to develop a vision for their neighborhoods. Partnering with public and private
    organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood as-
    sociations and other civic groups around the world, PPS improves communities by fostering successful
    public spaces.

    PPS trains more than 10,000 people each year, many from the international community, and reaches
    countless more through its websites and publications. PPS has become an internationally recognized
    center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking.




2
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




The Challenge

“Urbanization is the defining trend of the 21st century; by 2030, 75 percent of the world’s 9 billion
people will be living in cities. And urbanization is occurring most rapidly in places with the greatest
lack of planning for urbanization.” — UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos i Matheu

Cities and towns are growing at unprecedented rates. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population
lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and is expected to continue to
grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. In many cities, especially in developing countries,
slum dwellers number more than 50 percent of the population and have little or no access to shelter
and other basic services like electricity, clean water, and sanitation. These conditions are unaccept-
able. They can, and must, be changed.

 Streets, squares, and parks, especially in the informal city, are often chaotic, poorly planned and
maintained -- if they exist at all. In this context, there are multiple challenges presented by the public
spaces themselves:

Lack of Public Space Especially in informal settlements, public spaces can be lacking altogether, in-
creasing tension and stress for people who live in crowded and inadequate conditions. In other cases,
new commercial and residential development can destroy traditional public space, as older neighbor-
hoods with well-established social patterns are wiped out to make way for high-rise development,
resulting in a profound dislocation of the population and disruption of centuries-old ways of living
together and sharing resources.
 Streets, in particular, have for millennia been a vital part of the public realm, providing a place where
merchants can sell their wares, children can play, and people can stop to talk. The growing preva-
lence of the automobile has squeezed out these uses. Reclaiming streets as places for people can
strengthen cities in a variety of ways – economically, environmentally, as well as socially.

Lack of Planning for Public Spaces. All over the world, sprawl development is allowed to spread
without any plan for public space. Sometimes, builders create “public” space that is actually private
— behind the walls of gated communities, inside malls that are patrolled by security guards, or within
exclusive clublike recreational areas. All of these types of spaces create the illusion that public space
exists, but in actuality function to separate people by class and income, as well as sometimes by eth-
nicity and religion.

Lack of Public Spaces That Bring People Together. The best public spaces bring together people
from all walks of life and all income groups. The presence of multiple types of people ensures that no
one group dominates, and that the space is safe and welcoming for all, including women and youth.
Where public space is absent, inadequate, poorly designed, or privatized, the city becomes increas-
ingly segregated. Lines are drawn based on religion, ethnicity, and economic status. The result can be
a dangerously polarized city where social tensions are more likely to flare up and where social mobil-
ity and economic opportunity are stifled.

Lack of Participation and Poor Design. These are not only matters for planners, designers, and
bureaucrats to decide in a void. Only with full public participation in the creation of public spaces can
truly great places come into being. Building a city is an organic process, not a simple recipe or a one-
size-fits-all pattern. Local customs must always be considered and honored. Maintenance costs must
remain within reason for the community involved.

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Project for Public Spaces




     Better Public Spaces Through Placemaking. The Placemaking process, when it is conducted
     with transparency and good faith from the bottom up, results in a place where the community feels
     ownership and engagement, and where design serves function. Here, human needs will be met and
     fulfilled, for the betterment of all.

     Placemaking is a skill that is transferred either formally or informally. It identifies and catalyzes local
     leadership, funding, and other resources. Placemaking is a bottom-up approach that empowers and
     engages people in ways that traditional planning processes do not. It draws on the assets and skills of
     a community, rather than on relying solely on professional “experts.”

     The Placemaking approach is defined by the recognition that when it comes to public spaces, “the
     community is the expert.” It follows that strong local partnerships are essential to the process of
     creating dynamic, healthy public spaces that truly serve a city’s people. Public spaces are also a com-
     mon goal that local governments, diverse existing groups and NGOs can work on collaboratively in a
     democratic process.

     Each place, each culture, is unique. Questions of societal norms, climate, and tradition must all be
     considered. What works for a Northern European city might be completely inappropriate for one in
     Southeast Asia. Therefore, every culture needs to find the tools and approaches that work for them.




4
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




About This Handbook

This handbook will serve as a guide for use by municipal leaders in future public space projects laying
out 10 best practices for public space projects. These 10 facets of the Placemaking approach illustrate
the process that PPS and UN-Habitat have undertaken together, and demonstrate the effectiveness of
such global partnerships in sustainable urban development through networks such as SUD-Net.

UN-Habitat has been developing a vision for public space. PPS has taken this vision as a starting point
and has expanded it to incorporate case study narratives describing the impact of the Placemaking
process in nearly a dozen cities throughout the Global South. The goal is to bring Placemaking to
bear in the development of public space on a global scale.

UN-Habitat plans to use this document as a template for other public space projects and will share
these tools, examples, and processes with other cities for them to then adopt for their own public
space projects. This is a draft that will continue to evolve and be expanded over time to incorporate
the outcomes of additional joint Placemaking initiatives.




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Project for Public Spaces




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Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Ten Ways to Improve Your City

With all the challenges facing cities today, particularly in the Global South, it can be hard to know how
to tackle the problem of creating vibrant, safe, attractive public spaces. The following fundamental
principles will provide a starting point for discussion and action. This is a draft document, and it will be
updated periodically with further case studies and other input.


1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces
Streets are the fundamental public space in every city, the lifeblood of social and economic exchange.
Yet today, more and more streets are simply choked with car traffic vying for space with pedestrians
and bicyclists. No one “wins” this game.

Placemaking promotes a simple principle: if you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic.
If you plan for people and places, you get people and places. It is not true that more traffic and road
capacity are the inevitable results of growth. They are in fact the products of very deliberate choices
that have been made to shape our communities to accommodate the private automobile. We have
the ability to make different choices — starting with the decision to design our streets as comfortable
and safe places — for people on foot, not people in cars.

As cities in the developing world expand, safe and effective public transit systems must expand ac-
cordingly. Even streets that are designed for Bus Rapid Transit — as beneficial as this approach is —
must be designed to support a range of uses. Proper urban design can facilitate vibrant public spaces.

With the right balance, streets can accommodate vehicles and become destinations worth visiting.
Transit stops and stations can make commuting by rail or bus a pleasure. Neighborhood streets can
be places where parents feel safe letting their children play, and commercial strips can be designed as
grand boulevards, safe for walking and cycling and allowing for both through and local traffic. Streets
that are planned for people, meaning they are not completely auto-centric, add to the social cohe-
sion of communities by ensuring human interaction, and providing safe public spaces that promote
cultural expression.

Cities historically were laid out around streets. New York City’s grid system, which just celebrated its
200th anniversary, is particularly notable – a third of Manhattan is public space. Facing massive urban-
ization, cities today need to get ahead of the development curve and lay out streets in advance of ac-
tual development, informal or formal. These should not be just arteries for vehicles, but a hierarchy of
different street types, from quiet neighborhood lanes to major boulevards — all of which will become
the places of the city’s future.




                                                                                                               7
Project for Public Spaces




     2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations
     Parks and squares can sometimes be viewed as a frivolity, an unnecessary drain on resources or use
     of precious urban space. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, parks and squares reward
     investment disproportionately. If developed as “places” and planned around major public destinations,
     they build local economies, civic pride, social connection, and human happiness — all precious com-
     modities in an increasingly congested urban landscape.

     A great urban park is a safety valve for the city, where people living in high density can find breathing
     room. A bad park is a place of fear and danger. A great square can be a focal point of civic pride and
     help to make citizens feel connected to their cultural and political institutions. A bad square repels
     people, business, and investment.

     In many ways, the word “park” or “square” is too limiting today, as both terms imply a set of design
     features and uses that may not be enough to make a successful public space. A city’s best public
     spaces are multi-use destinations. In wealthy neighborhoods and impoverished ones, they are places
     that attract people of all ages and income groups, men and women alike. This is where citizens can
     find common ground — where ethnic and economic tensions can be overlooked and disparate sec-
     tors of society can come together peacefully.

     Communities everywhere can decide what it is that makes their public spaces a destination. Is it an
     amenity? A performance space? A place for youth? A market for local products? Usually the answer is
     more than one of these, but the right mix is up to the people who will use the place.




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Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




3. Build Local Economies Through Markets
The evolution of cities is based on commerce linking urban and rural economies. Cities emerged
because people gathered together at crossroads to exchange goods and ideas. This essential function
of urban centers has remained unchanged for centuries.

Since the beginning of human history, public markets have been at the heart of cities. Much more
than commercial hubs, they are traditionally among the most dynamic and productive places in our
cities and towns. Here, people exchange the news of the day, from local gossip to national politics. In
the marketplace, people build and solidify the social ties that are necessary for a healthy society.

At their best, markets bring people of different ethnic groups and income levels together in a safe, in-
viting public space. They provide opportunity for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum,
allowing entrepreneurs, including women, to sustain themselves and their families with a minimum
of capital investment. They encourage the preservation of farmland around cities, as well as feeding
money back into the rural economy and strengthening ties between urban and rural areas. Markets
invigorate surrounding neighborhoods and provide access to fresh food and other necessities of life.

Yet all too many cities don’t value their markets for their benefits, investing instead in “modern” super-
markets and hypermarkets that have little impact on the local economy – discovering this reality too
late. In the U.S., cities closed down their market systems in the mid-20th century, but new farmers’
markets began emerging spontaneously throughout the country. More than 7,000 of these markets
are operating today.

The informal economy thrives in most cities – but often chaotically, clogging streets, competing
unfairly with local businesses, and limiting the hope of upward mobility to marginalized members of
society. Markets can, however, provide a structure and a regulatory framework that helps small busi-
nesses grow, preserves food safety, and makes a more attractive destination for shoppers.




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     4. Design Buildings to Support Places
     Every building sends a message to the people around it. What should the buildings we are construct-
     ing today say to and reflect about our communities?

     With extremely rapid urbanization ongoing throughout the world, new buildings are going up at an
     unprecedented pace. Massive gated communities are being built for the middle class, exacerbating
     the gulf between rich and poor. Traditional neighborhoods are being replaced by towering skyscrap-
     ers, sometimes only meters apart. Civic institutions such as schools and libraries, key community
     assets, end up looking like fortresses. This trend has spread across the globe, and it is damaging the
     fabric of cities everywhere.

     It is important to seriously consider what kind of architecture will best serve the billions of people who
     live in the world’s cities. Whether we like the structures as pure formal objects is another matter, and
     not of primary significance. What is truly significant is whether architecture creates a place.
     Architecture that enhances place is permeable at the street level and engages with the city’s fabric. It
     is always built with the human scale in mind. It supports and contributes to the liveliness of an adja-
     cent neighborhood. This is especially critical for city investment in public institutions such as muse-
     ums, government buildings and libraries. These facilities, again designed as multi-use destinations, can
     become important anchors for civic activity that host a broader range of activities. But not if they are
     walled off from the city around them, with their interiors, however bustling, invisible to the surround-
     ing neighborhood.




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Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda
A healthy city is one in which citizens have access to basic infrastructure such as clean water, ablution
facilities, and sewage treatment. It is also a place where healthy food is available, where women and
children can walk without fear, and where people can enjoy parks, squares, and other public spaces in
safety and comfort.
A broad public health agenda can greatly strengthen a public space agenda, and vice versa. Health
care facilities themselves can serve as community centers. Cultural institutions such as libraries can
provide health education and services. Well-run public markets are a source of fresh, affordable, and
nutritious food. Transportation systems can encourage walking and reduce car traffic and air pollu-
tion. Ironically, the developed world is facing a major epidemic of obesity and diabetes, fueled in part
by simple lack of safe places to walk and the unhealthy foods available in aisle after aisle of modern
supermarkets.

Perhaps even more important is the overall psychological effect that well-conceived and managed
public spaces can have on a city’s health. Public parks where all people feel safe to play and relax can
relieve stress, especially when people live in crowded informal settlements. Crime rates and gang ac-
tivity go down when more people are out on the street and know their neighbors. If civic institutions
are housed in approachable buildings, people feel encouraged to take part in public health programs.

Where people feel a sense of ownership in their cities — something that Placemaking fosters — they
are more likely to take better care of the common environment and of themselves.




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     HOW TO DO IT


     6. Reinvent Community Planning
     Local people have the best understanding of the assets and challenges of a particular place. The
     important starting point in developing a concept for any public space agenda should be to identify the
     talents and resources within the community -- people who can provide historical perspective, insights
     into how the area functions, and an understanding of what is truly meaningful to the local people.
     Tapping this information at the beginning of the process will help to create a sense of ownership in
     the project that can ensure its success for years to come.

     Partners are also critical to the future success and image of a public space improvement project. Lo-
     cal institutions, museums, schools, formal and informal neighborhood groups, business associations
     -- all these can be valuable allies. Brainstorm and develop scenarios with these people. Involve them
     from start to finish. They are invaluable in getting a project off the ground and keeping it going.
     With these groups, cities can work to develop a vision for how to improve public spaces. What kinds
     of activities might be happening in the space? Who will be using it? What resources can be tapped to
     start making improvements right away?

     Public spaces are complex, organic things. You cannot expect to do everything right initially. The best
     spaces evolve over time when you experiment with short-term improvements that can be tested and
     refined over many years.

     Professionals such as traffic engineers, transit operators, urban planners, and architects often have
     narrow definitions of their jobs — facilitating traffic, making trains run on time, creating long-term
     schemes for building cities, designing buildings. By contrast, a community has a holistic vision and
     should lead the professionals in implementing that vision and acting as facilitators and resources. The
     key is to improve communication between the people and local government.

     Over time, things change, and public spaces and the communities they serve must change with them.
     New groups move in, while others move out. Amenities wear out. Different forms of recreation go in
     and out of fashion. Good public spaces are always flexible, responding to the evolution of the urban
     environment. Remaining open to the need for change and having the community maintain control
     over enacting that change is what builds not just great public spaces, but great cities and towns.




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Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




7. The Power of 10
The Power of 10 is a concept to kick-start the Placemaking process. Every time we talk about this
idea, citizens become more energized to turn their places around. The Power of 10 offers an easy
framework that motivates residents and stakeholders to revitalize urban life, and it shows that by start-
ing efforts at the smallest scale, you can accomplish big things. The concept also provides people
something tangible to strive for and helps them visualize what it takes to make their community great.

The number 10 is not set in stone. The core principle is the importance of offering a variety of things
to do in one spot — making a place more than the sum of its parts. A park is good. A park with a foun-
tain, playground, and food vendor is better. If there’s a library across the street, that’s better still, even
more so if they feature storytelling hours for kids and exhibits on local history. If there’s a sidewalk
café nearby, a bus stop, a bike path, and an ice cream stand, then you have what most people would
consider a great place.

What if a neighborhood had 10 places that were that good? The area would then achieve a critical
mass — a series of destinations where residents and tourists alike would become immersed in the life
of the city for days at a time.

Taking the next step, what if a city could boast 10 such neighborhoods? Then all residents would have
access to outstanding public spaces within walking distance of their homes. That’s the sort of goal we
need to set for all cities if we are serious about enhancing and revitalizing urban life.

Again, it is the people who use the space regularly are the best source of ideas for what uses will work
best. It’s the Placemakers’ role to encourage everyone to think about what’s special in their communi-
ties. How many quality places are located nearby, and how are they connected? Are there places that
should be more meaningful but aren’t? Answering these questions can help residents and stakehold-
ers determine — both individually and collectively — where they need to focus their energies.




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     8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda
     A comprehensive approach to developing, enhancing, and managing public space requires both
     “top-down” and “bottom-up” strategies. Leadership at the highest level of city is essential if transforma-
     tion of public spaces is to occur on a large scale. A “bottom-up” grassroots organizing strategy is also
     integral to the strategy.

     The first step in developing a citywide agenda is to make an honest assessment of how existing public
     spaces are performing — or underperforming. Communities should make note of a schoolyard that
     often sits empty, for instance, a lifeless plaza, a dilapidated park. The assessment should include every
     neighborhood and involve the people who live there as well as other key stakeholders. Tools like the
     Power of 10 (see Point 8) can be useful in making this assessment.

     With this inventory, city leadership can develop a bold consensus vision. For example, in New York,
     the city set out a goal to carve a new “public plaza” out of existing street space in each of the 59 com-
     munity board districts. Such a district-by-district approach encourages residents and officials to look at
     their neighborhoods anew and bring unexpected possibilities to light. Unused and underused spaces
     can be identified and improved in a systematic way, ensuring that the benefits are distributed geo-
     graphically, strengthening the entire fabric of the city and building equity.

     Any public space agenda must also be tied to new development projects. Governments should take
     advantage of growing real estate markets in cities by creating incentives for developers to preserve
     and enhance the public environments that are so greatly affected by their projects. A small tax on new
     development (successful in Chicago) could fund many of the improvements identified in the process
     of creating a public space agenda.

     Public space programs are emerging at the national scale as well, using the many of the same prin-
     ciples. Brazil has launched a very ambitious initiative that is aimed at the development of 800 “public
     squares” in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities cities across the country over the next
     three years. These squares will be holistic gathering places combining sports facilities with cultural
     uses (such as libraries) and a variety of social services that are much needed by people in these vul-
     nerable communities.




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Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment
Public spaces are complex, organic things. You cannot expect to do everything right initially. The best
spaces evolve by experimenting with short-term improvements that can be tested and refined over
many years. Places to sit, a sidewalk café, a community event, a container garden, painted crosswalks
— all these are examples of “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC) positive changes that can be accom-
plished in a short time.

LQC is not just lower risk and lower cost, but capitalizes on the creative energy of the community to
efficiently generate new uses and revenue for places in transition. LQC projects allow citizens to try
out new things. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. If you have a success, build on it.
LQC can take many forms, requiring varying degrees of time, money, and effort. It offers exceptional
flexibility and serves as an ever-evolving means to build lasting change. Especially in the Global South,
where resources are limited, this is a useful strategy.

Cities historically have been developed “lighter, quicker, cheaper” —with new settlements built simply
to start and evolving to increasing complexity over time. So it is an approach appropriate in any kind
of city, but which may have special resonance with people living in today’s informal settlements, who
are accustomed to using lightweight, innovative strategies, rather than major capital investments, to
solve problems and reshape their environments.

Cities can create “demonstration” LQC projects to draw upon local assets and people, transforming
underutilized urban spaces into exciting laboratories that reward citizens with authentic places and
provide a boost to areas in need. These projects provide a powerful means of translating stakeholder
visioning into physical reality.




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     10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces
     As we have seen, Placemaking identifies and catalyzes local leaders, funding, and other resources.
     The Placemaking approach builds on the abil¬ity of local institutions to create great community plac-
     es that bring people together and reflect community values and needs. This is a traditional, organic
     human skill that often goes underutilized by top-heavy technocratic bureaucracies.

     Unfortunately, government is generally not set up to support public spaces and Placemaking. Rarely is
     anyone in the official power structure actively focused on creating a successful public realm. Not only
     are there not individuals or departments focused on public spaces, but as a whole government does
     not explicitly seek successful public spaces as an outcome. The structure of departments and the pro-
     cesses they require in fact sometimes impede the creation of successful public spaces. Transportation
     departments view their mission as moving traffic; parks departments are there to create and manage
     green space; community development agencies are focused on development of projects, not the
     spaces in between them.

     If the ultimate goal of governance, urban institutions, and development is to make places, communi-
     ties, and regions more prosperous, civilized, and attractive for all people, then government processes
     need to change to reflect that goal. This requires the development of consensus-building, city consul-
     tation processes, and institutional reform, all of which enhance citizenship and inclusion. Effectively
     conceived and managed public spaces require the involvement of non-state partners, such as NGOs.
     But, while improving public space can meet the goals of NGOs and foundations, civil society itself
     needs ways to collaborate more effectively with government. In other words, government needs to
     mobilize to develop and implement bottom-up policies as well as top-down ones.

     The challenge is to include rather than to exclude, to share responsibility and investment, and to en-
     courage new modes of integration and regulation based on public good — not purely private interest.
     In cities where Placemaking has taken hold, local government is often not directly involved, for exam-
     ple, in implementation, but relies on community development organizations, business improvement
     districts, and neighborhood partnerships to take the lead in making community change happen.

     The concept of low-cost improvements that can be made in a mat¬ter of weeks or months changes
     the way that cities approach community development. It requires removing bureaucratic obstacles to
     quickly add value to a place and clearly demonstrate future potential. Working together on short-term
     changes can help build bridges between city agencies as well as to citizens, benefiting long-term
     implementation and maintenance as well.




16
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Case Studies
Improve Streets as Public Spaces

Case study: Medellín, Colombia
The Colombian city of Medellín has built a transportation system that brings together the formal and
informal cities, enhances street life, and contributes to social cohesion. The Medellín Metrocable, an
aerial tram system, serves the neighborhoods on the city’s hillsides, formerly some of Medellín’s most
crime-ridden and gang-infested areas. Residents of the traditionally marginalized settlements now
have quick access to the city’s main subway system — a connection that used to entail a daunting
walk up and down hundreds of steps or a lengthy minibus ride.

When constructing the Metrocable, the city took the opportunity to invest in improving the long-
neglected hillside barrios. Plazas at the bases of the pylons supporting the tram have become lively
neighborhood centers, with food vendors, seating, and landscaping. Parks, sporting fields, and librar-
ies have been constructed nearby. New schools were built, and older ones were improved. Pedestrian
walkways link parts of the city that used to be controlled by rival gangs, and murder rates have plum-
meted. Not only that, people from the formal city in the valley now feel safe visiting the hillside bar-
rios.




The plazas along the length of the Metrocable have become lively   The Metrocable is more than a transportation facility; it
public spaces that are programmed and managed by the users         is a vital integrative link between formal and informal ar-
themselves.                                                        eas of the city; it provides access to the city center and
Photo credit: Daniel Latorre                                       employment centers for neighborhood residents.
                                                                   Photo credit: Andres Carter




                                                                                                                                 17
Project for Public Spaces




     Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations

     Case study: Santiago, Chile
     Despite being in one of the most important neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile, anchored by one of the
     busiest train and bus stations in the city, the Las Condes plazas and commercial galleries had become
                                                          a place to pass through as quickly as possible. After
                                                          the galleries were built in the 1980s, they steadily
                                                          lost customers to the city’s shopping malls and
                                                          became desolate and forbidding. Compounding the
                                                          problem was an unfortunate design flaw, a surfeit of
                                                          entrances that made the square — especially in its in-
                                                          creasingly empty state — appealing only to criminals
                                                          who targeted people passing through.

                                                               Marcello Corbo and Rodrigo Jullian, co-founders of
                                                               Urban Development, saw this well-located space as
                                                               a major opportunity for both the city and their com-
                                                               pany. Their vision was to invest in the public spaces
                                                               and, through that, make the retail feasible.

     SubCentro after the redesign based on a collaborative     Over the following five years, Urban Development
     placemaking process all
                                                               forged alliances with the city government, Metro,
     Photos: Marcello Corbo
                                                               the Ministry of Transportation and the community
                                                               to make those changes and realize SubCentro’s
                                                               potential. The project became an exceptionally
                                                               collaborative one: the municipality of Las Condes
                                                               created new plazas and taxi stops; the Ministry of
                                                               Transportation modified the street design and cre-
                                                               ated new bus stops; the Metro leased the galleries
                                                               to Urban Development; and Urban Development
                                                               found the vendors, rented out the stalls, reduced
                                                               and improved access points, and created a private
                                                               team to manage the site.

                                                               In 2005, Mr. Corbo invited PPS to Santiago to look
                                                               at the site and hold a workshop with the design
                                                               team and city partners. PPS developed a series of
     SubCentro glows at night, creating a safe and welcoming   design and management recommendations and
     public space                                              principles for the team to follow through the pro-
                                                               cess.

     The redesign made a huge impact with some relatively small changes, like letting in more light to
     make the underpasses feel safer and more welcoming, changing the park design into a plaza surface
     to promote more public uses, and replacing the barriers between businesses with glass panels to
     create a feeling of continuity and openness. The resulting effect was akin to an old-fashioned market-
     place, blurring the distinction between inside and out, and between private and public.

18
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Since the galleries opened in March 2008, SubCentro Las Condes has kept the community involved
with creative outreach strategies. SubCentro is an exemplar of a private-public partnership creating
a thriving public space. It sets a new standard for public space creativity that would be difficult for a
more narrowly focused municipal or government agency to replicate.




Letting in more light makes the underpasses feel safer as
well.




                                                                                                               19
Project for Public Spaces




     Build Local Economies Through Markets

     Case study: Durban, South Africa
     The Traditional Medicine and Herb Market in the Warwick Junction neighborhood of Durban, South
     Africa, was once a ramshackle and dangerous place. Vendors had to sell their goods in the open air
     from the pavement, and sleep on the sidewalk under a highway with their wares to protect them from
     thieves. Wastewater from the preparation of the local delicacy of bovine heads was drained into the
     municipal stormwater system, attracting vermin and clogging pipes.

     But a redesign has changed all that. The local municipality has developed a comprehensive approach
     to improving local infrastructure, and the market is one of its premier projects. Government workers
     went to the traders and found out what they needed and wanted, then repurposed empty space in
     the market’s neighborhood to create enclosed stalls for vendors and locked storage spaces. Pedestri-
     an routes have been widened, allowing easier movement for shoppers. The vendors preparing bovine
     heads are now equipped with sanitary cooking facilities. The result of all these improvements, in-
     formed by the very people who were to use them, has been an economic blossoming, a safer market,
     and a dramatic increase in opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.




     Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, and is famous for
     its nature and beaches as well as its great ethnic diversity. This
     manifests itself in the many informal markets around the city that
     provide economic opportunities for the poor. These markets also
     create opportunities for people to socialize and for entrepreneurs
     to develop their creativity.




                                                                           New coverings over the Traditional Medicine and Herb
                                                                           Market
                                                                           Photo credit: Design Workshops and eThekwini
                                                                           Municipality


20
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Design Buildings to Support Places

Case study: Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia, is a city that is reaching for the best in urbanism on many fronts. It boasts an
impressive municipal office building, Council House 2, that richly enhances the surrounding neighbor-
hood. This bold, beautiful architectural accomplishment earned Australia’s six-star Green Star rating
in 2005, using innovative “biomimicry” technologies that mirror natural systems to save energy and
water.

But it is much more than just a showcase “green” building. At the ground level, it is dynamically con-
nected to the surrounding neighborhood, fostering street life and creating a strong sense of place.
The area around the building is enhanced by shade structures and other amenities, making this a
comfortable place and an integral part of the community and creating a friendly, healthy microclimate
in its immediate vicinity. It shows that “iconic” architecture need not be divorced from the urban fab-
ric. The best architecture exists in constant dialogue with the people and places around it.




                                                            Even more important, people gather in front of it. The build-
                                                            ing is surrounded by people, doing things because there are
                                                            things to do. Photo: Ethan Kent.




The design of CH2 is beautiful and environmentally sound.
Photo: Fred Kent.



                                                                                                                            21
Project for Public Spaces




     Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda

     Case Study: Detroit, United States
     The city of Detroit is working on a new vision for its future that will address long-term challenges
     while improving the quality of life for its residents in the short term. “Rebuilding Detroit’s Neighbor-
     hoods through Placemaking and the Power of 10” is an initiative that offers concrete solutions on the
     neighborhood scale that will result in significant quality of life improvements. The project leverages
     the gathering power of food and markets as catalysts for bringing people together, while building
     public spaces by improving vacant lots, existing parks, or too-wide streets. These public spaces will
     build a new sense of community and create opportunities for people to come together.

     It has been widely recognized that Detroit’s inner city is home to one of the worst “food deserts” in
     the country. Detroit’s neighborhoods are also often “place deserts”: they lack public spaces where
     people can gather, they lack lively shopping streets where street life binds residents together, and
     many have limited numbers of neighborhood destinations. Existing neighborhood facilities such as
     schools, clinics, or community centers tend to be internalized, and offer specific, sometimes one-
     dimensional experiences. That is also often the case with neighborhood parks or community gardens,
     which could have much stronger impact as community destinations.

     Project for Public Spaces, with support from the Kresge Foundation, is addressing the lack of place in
     communities by building on the growth of neighborhood farmers’ markets in Detroit. Farmers’ mar-
     kets offer an opportunity for short term, immediate steps to enhance access to fresh, local food and
     to use the gathering power of markets as catalysts for retail development while building a stronger
     sense of community. While the city is developing its Detroit Works plan for the future, small scale,
     focused interventions in targeted neighborhoods can send a strong message to residents about the
     power of community in neighborhood revitalization.

     Central Detroit is a neighborhood with a lot of basic needs. Despite its location in the United States, it
     shares many problems with the Global South. Many residents are out of work. Many don’t own cars,
     and the public transit system is utterly inadequate. Safety and security are a major concern — the city
     can’t even keep up with repairing broken streetlights. A lot of houses are abandoned and occupied by
     squatters.

     Last fall PPS was thrilled to be part of a very successful harvest festival outside the wonderful Central
     Detroit produce market Peaches & Greens (with key support from the Kresge Foundation and working
     with the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation). Although flanked by vacant
     lots, Peaches & Greens proved to be the right spot for the festival — and the event showed how this
     could evolve into an even better place for the neighborhood to come together.

     The tough conditions faced by local people made the response to the festival even more heartening.
     People were ready to jump right in and become part of something more meaningful. They provided a
     lot of practical ideas for activities could be taking place around Peaches & Greens on a more regular
     basis. One thing we heard from a lot of local residents was that they are eager to see more communi-
     ty-building events in the neighborhood.




22
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




A harvest festival and community celebration temporarily trans-   As there was no formal public space, the festival was
formed the atmosphere in an inner-city Detroit neighborhood.      held in the street and the parking lot of the produce
                                                                  market.




                                                                                                                          23
Project for Public Spaces




     Reinvent Community Planning

     Case Study: Nairobi, Kenya
                                                                               Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) trans-
                                                                               forms impoverished communities by
                                                                               collaborating with residents to create
                                                                               low-cost, high-impact built environ-
                                                                               ments (Productive Public Spaces) that
                                                                               improve their daily lives. Begun in 2006,
                                                                               KDI is an innovative international part-
                                                                               nership specializing in the practices of
                                                                               architecture, landscape architecture,
                                                                               engineering, and urban planning. KDI
                                                                               believes that participatory planning and
                                                                               design are key to sustainable develop-
                                                                               ment. By working collaboratively with
                                                                               communities from conception through
                                                                               implementation, they build on the ideas
     Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) transforms impoverished communities
     by collaborating with residents to create low-cost, high-impact built     of local residents, enhance them with
     environments (Productive Public Spaces) that improve their daily lives.   technical knowledge and design in-
     Photo Credit: KDI                                                         novation, and connect them to extant
                                                                               resources. In doing so, KDI empowers
                                                                               communities to advocate for themselves
                                                                               and address the major physical, social,
                                                                               and economic challenges they face.

                                                                      In early 2011, KDI identified a space in
                                                                     Nairobi’s largest informal settlement,
                                                                     Kibera, for a third Public Space Project
                                                                     – a site that lies along the river that runs
                                                                     through the settlement. The two large
                                                                     riverbanks here flood during the rainy
                                                                     season, and the site is used for waste dis-
                                                                     posal throughout the year. Poor drainage
                                                                     along the access roads greatly decreases
                                                                     residents’ pedestrian access to and from
     Opening celebration, Kibera Public Space Project 03.            their houses, although the two banks are
     Photo Credit: Miss Emily Lowery                                 connected by a bridge. Despite pollu-
                                                                     tion, the river is currently used as a play
     area for children, a laundry area for families, and gathering area for nearby residents.
     During summer 2011 the KDI Kenya team conducted numerous community workshops with residents
     and the community partners to prioritize needs, create design solutions, and explore micro-enterprise
     opportunities at the site. The resulting project design includes: a poultry farm; an improved drainage
     channel; flood control; a community center to house a school and health clinic; kiosks; and a play-
     ground constructed from locally sourced lumber and recycled metal.


24
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Power of 10

Case study: Nairobi, Kenya
The informal settlement of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya, is home to roughly 200,000 people. It is a place
where public spaces are completely overlooked, with infrastructure that is shockingly inadequate to
meet the needs of the people who live there. But there are exceptions, and the Silanga Sports Field is
one of them.

This soccer field was formerly run down, polluted, and a magnet for crime. But a local group called
the Kilimanjaro Initiative has been working steadily over the last few years to upgrade it. They have
leveled the field so that it is fit to play on, improved the drainage system, and started programming
the space with concerts and other events. As a result, the field has been transformed from a barren,
unsafe waste space and is now a magnet for the community.

In order to make the space even more attractive and safe for Kibera’s residents, PPS recently met on
site with local residents and city council staff to brainstorm about how to create synergy and connec-
tions among the facilities already located here, including a primary school, a public toilet, a commu-
nity garden, a playground, a river, a pottery studio, a meeting hall, and a resource center. The focus
became less on the sports field and more on how to maximize the use and potential of all of the
resources at Silanga Sports Field, to make it a true destination for the neighborhood, creating a ripple
of positive effects. This is the Power of 10 at work.




Presenting recommendations at the Power of 10 work-   The Kibera Silanga sports field as it looks today.
shop in Nairobi.                                      Photo credit: Vanessa September




                                                                                                                      25
Project for Public Spaces




     Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda

     Case study: Bogotá, Colombia
     The Colombian city of Bogotá is one where the divide between rich and poor had long been in-
     grained in the city’s fabric, with many parts of the city suffering from economic and geographic isola-
     tion. Over the last 20 years, the city’s leaders, notably former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, have embarked
     on a citywide campaign to use public space and transportation systems to bridge the social divide and
     create opportunity for all of Bogotá’s citizens.

     Central to the campaign has been the development of the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system,
     which provides fast, efficient, and reasonably priced public transportation to large areas of the city.
     Some 1.4 million people ride the system daily, and when it is completed there will be 388 kilometers
     of route, achieved at a fraction of the cost that an underground metro system would have cost.
     Another key aspect of the holistic approach that Bogotá has taken to its transformation is the Ciclo-
     vía. Each Sunday and on holidays, for several hours, most streets of the city are closed to cars so that
     people can enjoy biking, walking, and various recreational activities in the streets. These events have
     helped to raise awareness of the negative impact that car traffic has on people’s lives, and have been
     a key part of the city’s ongoing effort to regain street space for pedestrians and bicycles. City leaders
     also cracked down on sidewalk parking; pedestrianized Jimenez Avenue, the main street downtown;
     and introduced a system that restricted car use during rush hour.

     Peñalosa also led an effort to increase green space and playing fields in neighborhoods around
     Bogotá. The result has been a decrease in crime and gang activity. Many citizens who were formerly
     without recreational options can now enjoy safe, healthy outdoor activities that are inclusive of wom-
     en and children.




     Ciclovía has reinvigorated Bogotá’s city centre, increased safety,    Ciclovía spurred the pedestrianization of streets and the
     supported active living, and exercise, and created a stronger sense   transformation of vacant lots into parks. This increased the
     of community for Bogota’s citizens. The bike routes traverse the      amount and quality of public space in the city.
     rich and poor areas of the city alike.




26
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment

Case study: Gyrumi, Armenia
Gyrumi, Armenia is a city struck hard by a 1988 earthquake that left 25,000 people dead and 100,000
more without homes. In 2001, Aram Khachadurian, former PPS Chief Operating Officer, joined the
Urban Institute to help build thousands of housing units for the displaced families, who were still living
in temporary shelters in public spaces all over the city. With the success of this rehousing program,
the central square was again available to the public, opening the way to plan its revitalization.

In July 2003, a grant from the Academy for Educational Development brought PPS to Gyumri to
facilitate the first effort since the earthquake to recapture some of the civic life that had characterized
this cultural center. Local project partners included the Urban Institute and a local steering committee
of architects, planners, NGOs, and city officials. Despite fears that this public involvement effort would
fail because, in Armenia’s 6,000-year history, such participation has been virtually unknown, more
than 70 people attended a daylong Placemaking workshop. The enthusiasm immediately sparked a
cross-sector collaboration in the city on an unprecedented scale.

The result was the “New Gyumri Festival and Placemaking EXPO,” which occurred just two months
later. The people of Gyumri saw their square full of people (some 35,000) for the first time in anyone’s
memory.

Among the lengthy list of events and improvements were:
•	   a flower market, which has since become a regular bi-weekly event
•	   a roller-skating rink with new asphalt surfacing
•	   a giant chessboard made out of plywood by the local chess club
•	   seven cafés
•	   night lighting
•	   striping to direct traffic correctly
•	   an installation of new street furniture
•	   an art fair
•	   performances, dances, wrestling matches, gymnastics, and children’s programs
•	   flower gardens planted by the church
•	   new banners and street signage
•	   daily TV news broadcasts

This catalytic event has been followed by more events on the square, and is part of a larger civic
resurgence. Today, Gyrumi continues its recovery, with many officials well aware of the power of LQC
interventions.




                                                                                                               27
Project for Public Spaces




     The site that housed refugees after the Armenian earthquake.   The site was used for a three-day festival of art, food, and
                                                                    experimentation which turned this long-neglected site into
                                                                    a vibrant central square.




28
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment

Case study: Brno, Czech Republic
Many cities are confronted with the challenge of converting a historically valuable industrial property
that is no longer used for its original purpose, and which represents an opportunity to bring in new
uses. These factories capture people’s imagination because they have flexible spaces that can poten-
tially be used for many kinds of activities. However architecturally dramatic they may be, the size and
scale of these spaces makes it difficult to find new uses for them.

In Brno, the Czech Republic, the Vankovka factory, with PPS assistance, was saved from demolition
and designated an historic landmark. An NGO was set up to promote a community-based vision for
the complex, an impressive series of industrial halls and loft spaces located adjacent to the historic
city center. The NGO sponsored hundreds of events in the space, making temporary improvements
to make the spaces usable. Based on the popular support, the city purchased the factory complex.
The former factory is now a thriving shopping center and events venue, with shops, cafés, and restau-
rants -- a real destination for the city of Brno.




Vankovka factory before.                             Vankovka factory after.




                                                                                                                   29
Project for Public Spaces




     Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces

     Case study: Mexico
     In Mexico, SEDESOL, the Mexican Ministry of Social Development, has “rescued” 42,000 public spaces
     across the country in the past five years.
     Rescue of Public Spaces is a program that promotes the realization of social actions and the execu-
     tion of physical works to restore community meeting places, social interaction, and everyday recre-
     ation in insecure and marginalized urban areas.
     The goals are to help improve the quality of life and safety through the revitalization of public spaces
     in cities and metropolitan areas across Mexico, thereby promoting healthy living.
     Furthermore, the initiative is intended to link urban development to social development; promote
     community organization and participation; increase community safety and prevent antisocial activity;
     and help strengthen the sense of community belonging, social cohesion, and equitable relationships
     among genders.




     In Mexico, the SEDESOL program is using an integrated ap-
     proach toward creating safe, inclusive, and healthy public
     spaces by connecting all branches of government and improv-
     ing communication with citizens.




30
Placemaking and the Future of Cities 	




                                                  31

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Placemaking and the Future of Cities

  • 1. Placemaking and the Future of Cities DRAFT Fall 2012
  • 2. Placemaking and the Future of Cities By Project for Public Spaces,Inc. Produced under the auspices of the UN-HABITAT Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) with funding from the United Nations Federal Credit Union
  • 3. Table Of Contents Why Public Spaces Matter 1 Transforming Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces: About the Program 2 The Challenge 3 About This Handbook 4 Ten Ways to Improve Your City 7 1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces 7 2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations 8 3. Build Local Economies Through Markets 9 4. Design Buildings to Support Places 10 5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda 11 6. Reinvent Community Planning 12 7. Power of 10 13 8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda 14 9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment 15 10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces 16 Case Studies 17 Case study: Medellín, Colombia Case study: Santiago, Chile Case study: Durban, South Africa Case study: Melbourne, Australia Case Study: Detroit, United States Case Study: Nairobi, Kenya Case study: Nairobi, Kenya Case study: Bogotá, Colombia Case study: Gyrumi, Armenia Case study: Brno, Czech Republic Case study: Mexico
  • 4.
  • 5. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Why Public Spaces Matter “What defines a character of a city is its public space, not its private space. What defines the value of the private assets of the space are not the assets by themselves but the common assets. The value of the public good affects the value of the private good. We need to show every day that public spaces are an asset to a city.” -- UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos i Matheu “You have to turn everything upside down to get it right-side up.” --Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces Building inclusive, healthy, functional, and productive cities is perhaps the greatest challenge facing humanity today. There are no easy solutions. And yet a key part of the puzzle lies right in the heart of the world’s urban areas: the public spaces. Healthy public spaces are the springboard for revitalizing communities, whatever they are and wher- ever they are. That an attractive, active, well-functioning public space can jumpstart economic de- velopment in a community – from a small rural town to a big city – is being recognized increasingly around the world. Public spaces are a vital ingredient of successful cities. They help build a sense of community, civic identity and culture. Public spaces facilitate social capital, economic development and community revitalization. This is as true in the Global South as it is elsewhere in the world. Every community has some sort of public space, even if it is not immediately apparent. Sometimes it is obvious -- a shady park with walking paths and benches; a boulevard lined with sidewalks, a grand plaza surrounded by government buildings. But public space is also what we find in between private spaces, and is not always recognized or honored as public. Back alleys, neglected courtyards, and stairways may escape our notice -- but these are nonetheless among a city’s most underutilized and potentially valuable assets. Because they belong to everybody, they are perceived as belonging to nobody. And yet if they are claimed, and owned, and developed, they can be harnessed to strengthen and enrich their communities. When municipalities are struggling economically, investment in public spaces may be seen as a non- essential response. In the Global South, establishing the minimum conditions for proper public space — safety and cleanliness— can be a particular challenge. But the truth is that even a small investment in quality public space delivers a manifold return to the cities with the foresight to see its value. By strengthening the social fabric, providing economic opportunity, and boosting the well-being of citi- zens, public space can make limited resources go further and enrich the community both socially and monetarily. 1
  • 6. Transforming Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces: About the Program In 2011, UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a cooperative agreement, Transform- ing Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces, to harness the power of public space for the common good. By recognizing and developing the positive potential of their public spaces, cities can enhance safety and security, create economic opportunity, improve public health, create diverse public environments, and build democracy. The five-year cooperation agreement between UN-HABITAT and PPS is multifaceted in its goals. It aspires to raise international awareness of the importance of public space; to foster a lively exchange of ideas among partners; and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists, and other civic leaders about the benefits of the Placemaking methodology. The cooperation is global in scope, with activities at the city level, actively engaging local partners in the important work of improving their own communities. In a century where the “Right to the City” is increasingly being recognized as a fundamental human entitlement, this partnership is helping to advance the development of cities where people of all income groups, social classes, and ages can live safely, happily, and in economic security. The United Nations Human Settlements Program, UN-HABITAT, is mandated by the UN General As- sembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. The United Nations Millennium Declaration recognizes the dire circumstances of the world’s urban poor. It articulates the commitment of Member States to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, a charge that falls under UN-HABITAT’s mission. The Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) is an innovative platform for partners engaged in, or willing to work with, interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable urban development. It brings on board local authorities, institutions, the private sector, and other partners specialized in the urban field. Through SUD-Net, practical collaboration with and among networks has been enhanced. SUD-Net has selected yearly themes that can demonstrate multisectoral approaches to urban develop- ment and which will promote interdepartmental cooperation. Public space is the current theme and focus of SUD-Net. SUD-Net recognizes that public space development is multidisciplinary and therefore reflects the goals of SUD-Net in bringing various disciplines and sectors together to form a strengthened and comprehensive approach to urban development. Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (PPS), a nonprofit organization established in 1975, has pioneered a “Placemaking” approach to public spaces. This approach is based on a belief that it is not enough to simply develop design ideas and elements to revitalize a public space. A public involvement process that defines and responds to community conditions and needs from the outset is one of the most critical factors in designing a successful public space. PPS has developed a number of planning tools designed to enable communities to develop a vision for their neighborhoods. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood as- sociations and other civic groups around the world, PPS improves communities by fostering successful public spaces. PPS trains more than 10,000 people each year, many from the international community, and reaches countless more through its websites and publications. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking. 2
  • 7. Placemaking and the Future of Cities The Challenge “Urbanization is the defining trend of the 21st century; by 2030, 75 percent of the world’s 9 billion people will be living in cities. And urbanization is occurring most rapidly in places with the greatest lack of planning for urbanization.” — UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos i Matheu Cities and towns are growing at unprecedented rates. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and is expected to continue to grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50 percent of the population and have little or no access to shelter and other basic services like electricity, clean water, and sanitation. These conditions are unaccept- able. They can, and must, be changed. Streets, squares, and parks, especially in the informal city, are often chaotic, poorly planned and maintained -- if they exist at all. In this context, there are multiple challenges presented by the public spaces themselves: Lack of Public Space Especially in informal settlements, public spaces can be lacking altogether, in- creasing tension and stress for people who live in crowded and inadequate conditions. In other cases, new commercial and residential development can destroy traditional public space, as older neighbor- hoods with well-established social patterns are wiped out to make way for high-rise development, resulting in a profound dislocation of the population and disruption of centuries-old ways of living together and sharing resources. Streets, in particular, have for millennia been a vital part of the public realm, providing a place where merchants can sell their wares, children can play, and people can stop to talk. The growing preva- lence of the automobile has squeezed out these uses. Reclaiming streets as places for people can strengthen cities in a variety of ways – economically, environmentally, as well as socially. Lack of Planning for Public Spaces. All over the world, sprawl development is allowed to spread without any plan for public space. Sometimes, builders create “public” space that is actually private — behind the walls of gated communities, inside malls that are patrolled by security guards, or within exclusive clublike recreational areas. All of these types of spaces create the illusion that public space exists, but in actuality function to separate people by class and income, as well as sometimes by eth- nicity and religion. Lack of Public Spaces That Bring People Together. The best public spaces bring together people from all walks of life and all income groups. The presence of multiple types of people ensures that no one group dominates, and that the space is safe and welcoming for all, including women and youth. Where public space is absent, inadequate, poorly designed, or privatized, the city becomes increas- ingly segregated. Lines are drawn based on religion, ethnicity, and economic status. The result can be a dangerously polarized city where social tensions are more likely to flare up and where social mobil- ity and economic opportunity are stifled. Lack of Participation and Poor Design. These are not only matters for planners, designers, and bureaucrats to decide in a void. Only with full public participation in the creation of public spaces can truly great places come into being. Building a city is an organic process, not a simple recipe or a one- size-fits-all pattern. Local customs must always be considered and honored. Maintenance costs must remain within reason for the community involved. 3
  • 8. Project for Public Spaces Better Public Spaces Through Placemaking. The Placemaking process, when it is conducted with transparency and good faith from the bottom up, results in a place where the community feels ownership and engagement, and where design serves function. Here, human needs will be met and fulfilled, for the betterment of all. Placemaking is a skill that is transferred either formally or informally. It identifies and catalyzes local leadership, funding, and other resources. Placemaking is a bottom-up approach that empowers and engages people in ways that traditional planning processes do not. It draws on the assets and skills of a community, rather than on relying solely on professional “experts.” The Placemaking approach is defined by the recognition that when it comes to public spaces, “the community is the expert.” It follows that strong local partnerships are essential to the process of creating dynamic, healthy public spaces that truly serve a city’s people. Public spaces are also a com- mon goal that local governments, diverse existing groups and NGOs can work on collaboratively in a democratic process. Each place, each culture, is unique. Questions of societal norms, climate, and tradition must all be considered. What works for a Northern European city might be completely inappropriate for one in Southeast Asia. Therefore, every culture needs to find the tools and approaches that work for them. 4
  • 9. Placemaking and the Future of Cities About This Handbook This handbook will serve as a guide for use by municipal leaders in future public space projects laying out 10 best practices for public space projects. These 10 facets of the Placemaking approach illustrate the process that PPS and UN-Habitat have undertaken together, and demonstrate the effectiveness of such global partnerships in sustainable urban development through networks such as SUD-Net. UN-Habitat has been developing a vision for public space. PPS has taken this vision as a starting point and has expanded it to incorporate case study narratives describing the impact of the Placemaking process in nearly a dozen cities throughout the Global South. The goal is to bring Placemaking to bear in the development of public space on a global scale. UN-Habitat plans to use this document as a template for other public space projects and will share these tools, examples, and processes with other cities for them to then adopt for their own public space projects. This is a draft that will continue to evolve and be expanded over time to incorporate the outcomes of additional joint Placemaking initiatives. 5
  • 10. Project for Public Spaces 6
  • 11. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Ten Ways to Improve Your City With all the challenges facing cities today, particularly in the Global South, it can be hard to know how to tackle the problem of creating vibrant, safe, attractive public spaces. The following fundamental principles will provide a starting point for discussion and action. This is a draft document, and it will be updated periodically with further case studies and other input. 1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces Streets are the fundamental public space in every city, the lifeblood of social and economic exchange. Yet today, more and more streets are simply choked with car traffic vying for space with pedestrians and bicyclists. No one “wins” this game. Placemaking promotes a simple principle: if you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places. It is not true that more traffic and road capacity are the inevitable results of growth. They are in fact the products of very deliberate choices that have been made to shape our communities to accommodate the private automobile. We have the ability to make different choices — starting with the decision to design our streets as comfortable and safe places — for people on foot, not people in cars. As cities in the developing world expand, safe and effective public transit systems must expand ac- cordingly. Even streets that are designed for Bus Rapid Transit — as beneficial as this approach is — must be designed to support a range of uses. Proper urban design can facilitate vibrant public spaces. With the right balance, streets can accommodate vehicles and become destinations worth visiting. Transit stops and stations can make commuting by rail or bus a pleasure. Neighborhood streets can be places where parents feel safe letting their children play, and commercial strips can be designed as grand boulevards, safe for walking and cycling and allowing for both through and local traffic. Streets that are planned for people, meaning they are not completely auto-centric, add to the social cohe- sion of communities by ensuring human interaction, and providing safe public spaces that promote cultural expression. Cities historically were laid out around streets. New York City’s grid system, which just celebrated its 200th anniversary, is particularly notable – a third of Manhattan is public space. Facing massive urban- ization, cities today need to get ahead of the development curve and lay out streets in advance of ac- tual development, informal or formal. These should not be just arteries for vehicles, but a hierarchy of different street types, from quiet neighborhood lanes to major boulevards — all of which will become the places of the city’s future. 7
  • 12. Project for Public Spaces 2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations Parks and squares can sometimes be viewed as a frivolity, an unnecessary drain on resources or use of precious urban space. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, parks and squares reward investment disproportionately. If developed as “places” and planned around major public destinations, they build local economies, civic pride, social connection, and human happiness — all precious com- modities in an increasingly congested urban landscape. A great urban park is a safety valve for the city, where people living in high density can find breathing room. A bad park is a place of fear and danger. A great square can be a focal point of civic pride and help to make citizens feel connected to their cultural and political institutions. A bad square repels people, business, and investment. In many ways, the word “park” or “square” is too limiting today, as both terms imply a set of design features and uses that may not be enough to make a successful public space. A city’s best public spaces are multi-use destinations. In wealthy neighborhoods and impoverished ones, they are places that attract people of all ages and income groups, men and women alike. This is where citizens can find common ground — where ethnic and economic tensions can be overlooked and disparate sec- tors of society can come together peacefully. Communities everywhere can decide what it is that makes their public spaces a destination. Is it an amenity? A performance space? A place for youth? A market for local products? Usually the answer is more than one of these, but the right mix is up to the people who will use the place. 8
  • 13. Placemaking and the Future of Cities 3. Build Local Economies Through Markets The evolution of cities is based on commerce linking urban and rural economies. Cities emerged because people gathered together at crossroads to exchange goods and ideas. This essential function of urban centers has remained unchanged for centuries. Since the beginning of human history, public markets have been at the heart of cities. Much more than commercial hubs, they are traditionally among the most dynamic and productive places in our cities and towns. Here, people exchange the news of the day, from local gossip to national politics. In the marketplace, people build and solidify the social ties that are necessary for a healthy society. At their best, markets bring people of different ethnic groups and income levels together in a safe, in- viting public space. They provide opportunity for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum, allowing entrepreneurs, including women, to sustain themselves and their families with a minimum of capital investment. They encourage the preservation of farmland around cities, as well as feeding money back into the rural economy and strengthening ties between urban and rural areas. Markets invigorate surrounding neighborhoods and provide access to fresh food and other necessities of life. Yet all too many cities don’t value their markets for their benefits, investing instead in “modern” super- markets and hypermarkets that have little impact on the local economy – discovering this reality too late. In the U.S., cities closed down their market systems in the mid-20th century, but new farmers’ markets began emerging spontaneously throughout the country. More than 7,000 of these markets are operating today. The informal economy thrives in most cities – but often chaotically, clogging streets, competing unfairly with local businesses, and limiting the hope of upward mobility to marginalized members of society. Markets can, however, provide a structure and a regulatory framework that helps small busi- nesses grow, preserves food safety, and makes a more attractive destination for shoppers. 9
  • 14. Project for Public Spaces 4. Design Buildings to Support Places Every building sends a message to the people around it. What should the buildings we are construct- ing today say to and reflect about our communities? With extremely rapid urbanization ongoing throughout the world, new buildings are going up at an unprecedented pace. Massive gated communities are being built for the middle class, exacerbating the gulf between rich and poor. Traditional neighborhoods are being replaced by towering skyscrap- ers, sometimes only meters apart. Civic institutions such as schools and libraries, key community assets, end up looking like fortresses. This trend has spread across the globe, and it is damaging the fabric of cities everywhere. It is important to seriously consider what kind of architecture will best serve the billions of people who live in the world’s cities. Whether we like the structures as pure formal objects is another matter, and not of primary significance. What is truly significant is whether architecture creates a place. Architecture that enhances place is permeable at the street level and engages with the city’s fabric. It is always built with the human scale in mind. It supports and contributes to the liveliness of an adja- cent neighborhood. This is especially critical for city investment in public institutions such as muse- ums, government buildings and libraries. These facilities, again designed as multi-use destinations, can become important anchors for civic activity that host a broader range of activities. But not if they are walled off from the city around them, with their interiors, however bustling, invisible to the surround- ing neighborhood. 10
  • 15. Placemaking and the Future of Cities 5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda A healthy city is one in which citizens have access to basic infrastructure such as clean water, ablution facilities, and sewage treatment. It is also a place where healthy food is available, where women and children can walk without fear, and where people can enjoy parks, squares, and other public spaces in safety and comfort. A broad public health agenda can greatly strengthen a public space agenda, and vice versa. Health care facilities themselves can serve as community centers. Cultural institutions such as libraries can provide health education and services. Well-run public markets are a source of fresh, affordable, and nutritious food. Transportation systems can encourage walking and reduce car traffic and air pollu- tion. Ironically, the developed world is facing a major epidemic of obesity and diabetes, fueled in part by simple lack of safe places to walk and the unhealthy foods available in aisle after aisle of modern supermarkets. Perhaps even more important is the overall psychological effect that well-conceived and managed public spaces can have on a city’s health. Public parks where all people feel safe to play and relax can relieve stress, especially when people live in crowded informal settlements. Crime rates and gang ac- tivity go down when more people are out on the street and know their neighbors. If civic institutions are housed in approachable buildings, people feel encouraged to take part in public health programs. Where people feel a sense of ownership in their cities — something that Placemaking fosters — they are more likely to take better care of the common environment and of themselves. 11
  • 16. Project for Public Spaces HOW TO DO IT 6. Reinvent Community Planning Local people have the best understanding of the assets and challenges of a particular place. The important starting point in developing a concept for any public space agenda should be to identify the talents and resources within the community -- people who can provide historical perspective, insights into how the area functions, and an understanding of what is truly meaningful to the local people. Tapping this information at the beginning of the process will help to create a sense of ownership in the project that can ensure its success for years to come. Partners are also critical to the future success and image of a public space improvement project. Lo- cal institutions, museums, schools, formal and informal neighborhood groups, business associations -- all these can be valuable allies. Brainstorm and develop scenarios with these people. Involve them from start to finish. They are invaluable in getting a project off the ground and keeping it going. With these groups, cities can work to develop a vision for how to improve public spaces. What kinds of activities might be happening in the space? Who will be using it? What resources can be tapped to start making improvements right away? Public spaces are complex, organic things. You cannot expect to do everything right initially. The best spaces evolve over time when you experiment with short-term improvements that can be tested and refined over many years. Professionals such as traffic engineers, transit operators, urban planners, and architects often have narrow definitions of their jobs — facilitating traffic, making trains run on time, creating long-term schemes for building cities, designing buildings. By contrast, a community has a holistic vision and should lead the professionals in implementing that vision and acting as facilitators and resources. The key is to improve communication between the people and local government. Over time, things change, and public spaces and the communities they serve must change with them. New groups move in, while others move out. Amenities wear out. Different forms of recreation go in and out of fashion. Good public spaces are always flexible, responding to the evolution of the urban environment. Remaining open to the need for change and having the community maintain control over enacting that change is what builds not just great public spaces, but great cities and towns. 12
  • 17. Placemaking and the Future of Cities 7. The Power of 10 The Power of 10 is a concept to kick-start the Placemaking process. Every time we talk about this idea, citizens become more energized to turn their places around. The Power of 10 offers an easy framework that motivates residents and stakeholders to revitalize urban life, and it shows that by start- ing efforts at the smallest scale, you can accomplish big things. The concept also provides people something tangible to strive for and helps them visualize what it takes to make their community great. The number 10 is not set in stone. The core principle is the importance of offering a variety of things to do in one spot — making a place more than the sum of its parts. A park is good. A park with a foun- tain, playground, and food vendor is better. If there’s a library across the street, that’s better still, even more so if they feature storytelling hours for kids and exhibits on local history. If there’s a sidewalk café nearby, a bus stop, a bike path, and an ice cream stand, then you have what most people would consider a great place. What if a neighborhood had 10 places that were that good? The area would then achieve a critical mass — a series of destinations where residents and tourists alike would become immersed in the life of the city for days at a time. Taking the next step, what if a city could boast 10 such neighborhoods? Then all residents would have access to outstanding public spaces within walking distance of their homes. That’s the sort of goal we need to set for all cities if we are serious about enhancing and revitalizing urban life. Again, it is the people who use the space regularly are the best source of ideas for what uses will work best. It’s the Placemakers’ role to encourage everyone to think about what’s special in their communi- ties. How many quality places are located nearby, and how are they connected? Are there places that should be more meaningful but aren’t? Answering these questions can help residents and stakehold- ers determine — both individually and collectively — where they need to focus their energies. 13
  • 18. Project for Public Spaces 8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda A comprehensive approach to developing, enhancing, and managing public space requires both “top-down” and “bottom-up” strategies. Leadership at the highest level of city is essential if transforma- tion of public spaces is to occur on a large scale. A “bottom-up” grassroots organizing strategy is also integral to the strategy. The first step in developing a citywide agenda is to make an honest assessment of how existing public spaces are performing — or underperforming. Communities should make note of a schoolyard that often sits empty, for instance, a lifeless plaza, a dilapidated park. The assessment should include every neighborhood and involve the people who live there as well as other key stakeholders. Tools like the Power of 10 (see Point 8) can be useful in making this assessment. With this inventory, city leadership can develop a bold consensus vision. For example, in New York, the city set out a goal to carve a new “public plaza” out of existing street space in each of the 59 com- munity board districts. Such a district-by-district approach encourages residents and officials to look at their neighborhoods anew and bring unexpected possibilities to light. Unused and underused spaces can be identified and improved in a systematic way, ensuring that the benefits are distributed geo- graphically, strengthening the entire fabric of the city and building equity. Any public space agenda must also be tied to new development projects. Governments should take advantage of growing real estate markets in cities by creating incentives for developers to preserve and enhance the public environments that are so greatly affected by their projects. A small tax on new development (successful in Chicago) could fund many of the improvements identified in the process of creating a public space agenda. Public space programs are emerging at the national scale as well, using the many of the same prin- ciples. Brazil has launched a very ambitious initiative that is aimed at the development of 800 “public squares” in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities cities across the country over the next three years. These squares will be holistic gathering places combining sports facilities with cultural uses (such as libraries) and a variety of social services that are much needed by people in these vul- nerable communities. 14
  • 19. Placemaking and the Future of Cities 9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment Public spaces are complex, organic things. You cannot expect to do everything right initially. The best spaces evolve by experimenting with short-term improvements that can be tested and refined over many years. Places to sit, a sidewalk café, a community event, a container garden, painted crosswalks — all these are examples of “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC) positive changes that can be accom- plished in a short time. LQC is not just lower risk and lower cost, but capitalizes on the creative energy of the community to efficiently generate new uses and revenue for places in transition. LQC projects allow citizens to try out new things. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. If you have a success, build on it. LQC can take many forms, requiring varying degrees of time, money, and effort. It offers exceptional flexibility and serves as an ever-evolving means to build lasting change. Especially in the Global South, where resources are limited, this is a useful strategy. Cities historically have been developed “lighter, quicker, cheaper” —with new settlements built simply to start and evolving to increasing complexity over time. So it is an approach appropriate in any kind of city, but which may have special resonance with people living in today’s informal settlements, who are accustomed to using lightweight, innovative strategies, rather than major capital investments, to solve problems and reshape their environments. Cities can create “demonstration” LQC projects to draw upon local assets and people, transforming underutilized urban spaces into exciting laboratories that reward citizens with authentic places and provide a boost to areas in need. These projects provide a powerful means of translating stakeholder visioning into physical reality. 15
  • 20. Project for Public Spaces 10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces As we have seen, Placemaking identifies and catalyzes local leaders, funding, and other resources. The Placemaking approach builds on the abil¬ity of local institutions to create great community plac- es that bring people together and reflect community values and needs. This is a traditional, organic human skill that often goes underutilized by top-heavy technocratic bureaucracies. Unfortunately, government is generally not set up to support public spaces and Placemaking. Rarely is anyone in the official power structure actively focused on creating a successful public realm. Not only are there not individuals or departments focused on public spaces, but as a whole government does not explicitly seek successful public spaces as an outcome. The structure of departments and the pro- cesses they require in fact sometimes impede the creation of successful public spaces. Transportation departments view their mission as moving traffic; parks departments are there to create and manage green space; community development agencies are focused on development of projects, not the spaces in between them. If the ultimate goal of governance, urban institutions, and development is to make places, communi- ties, and regions more prosperous, civilized, and attractive for all people, then government processes need to change to reflect that goal. This requires the development of consensus-building, city consul- tation processes, and institutional reform, all of which enhance citizenship and inclusion. Effectively conceived and managed public spaces require the involvement of non-state partners, such as NGOs. But, while improving public space can meet the goals of NGOs and foundations, civil society itself needs ways to collaborate more effectively with government. In other words, government needs to mobilize to develop and implement bottom-up policies as well as top-down ones. The challenge is to include rather than to exclude, to share responsibility and investment, and to en- courage new modes of integration and regulation based on public good — not purely private interest. In cities where Placemaking has taken hold, local government is often not directly involved, for exam- ple, in implementation, but relies on community development organizations, business improvement districts, and neighborhood partnerships to take the lead in making community change happen. The concept of low-cost improvements that can be made in a mat¬ter of weeks or months changes the way that cities approach community development. It requires removing bureaucratic obstacles to quickly add value to a place and clearly demonstrate future potential. Working together on short-term changes can help build bridges between city agencies as well as to citizens, benefiting long-term implementation and maintenance as well. 16
  • 21. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Case Studies Improve Streets as Public Spaces Case study: Medellín, Colombia The Colombian city of Medellín has built a transportation system that brings together the formal and informal cities, enhances street life, and contributes to social cohesion. The Medellín Metrocable, an aerial tram system, serves the neighborhoods on the city’s hillsides, formerly some of Medellín’s most crime-ridden and gang-infested areas. Residents of the traditionally marginalized settlements now have quick access to the city’s main subway system — a connection that used to entail a daunting walk up and down hundreds of steps or a lengthy minibus ride. When constructing the Metrocable, the city took the opportunity to invest in improving the long- neglected hillside barrios. Plazas at the bases of the pylons supporting the tram have become lively neighborhood centers, with food vendors, seating, and landscaping. Parks, sporting fields, and librar- ies have been constructed nearby. New schools were built, and older ones were improved. Pedestrian walkways link parts of the city that used to be controlled by rival gangs, and murder rates have plum- meted. Not only that, people from the formal city in the valley now feel safe visiting the hillside bar- rios. The plazas along the length of the Metrocable have become lively The Metrocable is more than a transportation facility; it public spaces that are programmed and managed by the users is a vital integrative link between formal and informal ar- themselves. eas of the city; it provides access to the city center and Photo credit: Daniel Latorre employment centers for neighborhood residents. Photo credit: Andres Carter 17
  • 22. Project for Public Spaces Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations Case study: Santiago, Chile Despite being in one of the most important neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile, anchored by one of the busiest train and bus stations in the city, the Las Condes plazas and commercial galleries had become a place to pass through as quickly as possible. After the galleries were built in the 1980s, they steadily lost customers to the city’s shopping malls and became desolate and forbidding. Compounding the problem was an unfortunate design flaw, a surfeit of entrances that made the square — especially in its in- creasingly empty state — appealing only to criminals who targeted people passing through. Marcello Corbo and Rodrigo Jullian, co-founders of Urban Development, saw this well-located space as a major opportunity for both the city and their com- pany. Their vision was to invest in the public spaces and, through that, make the retail feasible. SubCentro after the redesign based on a collaborative Over the following five years, Urban Development placemaking process all forged alliances with the city government, Metro, Photos: Marcello Corbo the Ministry of Transportation and the community to make those changes and realize SubCentro’s potential. The project became an exceptionally collaborative one: the municipality of Las Condes created new plazas and taxi stops; the Ministry of Transportation modified the street design and cre- ated new bus stops; the Metro leased the galleries to Urban Development; and Urban Development found the vendors, rented out the stalls, reduced and improved access points, and created a private team to manage the site. In 2005, Mr. Corbo invited PPS to Santiago to look at the site and hold a workshop with the design team and city partners. PPS developed a series of SubCentro glows at night, creating a safe and welcoming design and management recommendations and public space principles for the team to follow through the pro- cess. The redesign made a huge impact with some relatively small changes, like letting in more light to make the underpasses feel safer and more welcoming, changing the park design into a plaza surface to promote more public uses, and replacing the barriers between businesses with glass panels to create a feeling of continuity and openness. The resulting effect was akin to an old-fashioned market- place, blurring the distinction between inside and out, and between private and public. 18
  • 23. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Since the galleries opened in March 2008, SubCentro Las Condes has kept the community involved with creative outreach strategies. SubCentro is an exemplar of a private-public partnership creating a thriving public space. It sets a new standard for public space creativity that would be difficult for a more narrowly focused municipal or government agency to replicate. Letting in more light makes the underpasses feel safer as well. 19
  • 24. Project for Public Spaces Build Local Economies Through Markets Case study: Durban, South Africa The Traditional Medicine and Herb Market in the Warwick Junction neighborhood of Durban, South Africa, was once a ramshackle and dangerous place. Vendors had to sell their goods in the open air from the pavement, and sleep on the sidewalk under a highway with their wares to protect them from thieves. Wastewater from the preparation of the local delicacy of bovine heads was drained into the municipal stormwater system, attracting vermin and clogging pipes. But a redesign has changed all that. The local municipality has developed a comprehensive approach to improving local infrastructure, and the market is one of its premier projects. Government workers went to the traders and found out what they needed and wanted, then repurposed empty space in the market’s neighborhood to create enclosed stalls for vendors and locked storage spaces. Pedestri- an routes have been widened, allowing easier movement for shoppers. The vendors preparing bovine heads are now equipped with sanitary cooking facilities. The result of all these improvements, in- formed by the very people who were to use them, has been an economic blossoming, a safer market, and a dramatic increase in opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, and is famous for its nature and beaches as well as its great ethnic diversity. This manifests itself in the many informal markets around the city that provide economic opportunities for the poor. These markets also create opportunities for people to socialize and for entrepreneurs to develop their creativity. New coverings over the Traditional Medicine and Herb Market Photo credit: Design Workshops and eThekwini Municipality 20
  • 25. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Design Buildings to Support Places Case study: Melbourne, Australia Melbourne, Australia, is a city that is reaching for the best in urbanism on many fronts. It boasts an impressive municipal office building, Council House 2, that richly enhances the surrounding neighbor- hood. This bold, beautiful architectural accomplishment earned Australia’s six-star Green Star rating in 2005, using innovative “biomimicry” technologies that mirror natural systems to save energy and water. But it is much more than just a showcase “green” building. At the ground level, it is dynamically con- nected to the surrounding neighborhood, fostering street life and creating a strong sense of place. The area around the building is enhanced by shade structures and other amenities, making this a comfortable place and an integral part of the community and creating a friendly, healthy microclimate in its immediate vicinity. It shows that “iconic” architecture need not be divorced from the urban fab- ric. The best architecture exists in constant dialogue with the people and places around it. Even more important, people gather in front of it. The build- ing is surrounded by people, doing things because there are things to do. Photo: Ethan Kent. The design of CH2 is beautiful and environmentally sound. Photo: Fred Kent. 21
  • 26. Project for Public Spaces Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda Case Study: Detroit, United States The city of Detroit is working on a new vision for its future that will address long-term challenges while improving the quality of life for its residents in the short term. “Rebuilding Detroit’s Neighbor- hoods through Placemaking and the Power of 10” is an initiative that offers concrete solutions on the neighborhood scale that will result in significant quality of life improvements. The project leverages the gathering power of food and markets as catalysts for bringing people together, while building public spaces by improving vacant lots, existing parks, or too-wide streets. These public spaces will build a new sense of community and create opportunities for people to come together. It has been widely recognized that Detroit’s inner city is home to one of the worst “food deserts” in the country. Detroit’s neighborhoods are also often “place deserts”: they lack public spaces where people can gather, they lack lively shopping streets where street life binds residents together, and many have limited numbers of neighborhood destinations. Existing neighborhood facilities such as schools, clinics, or community centers tend to be internalized, and offer specific, sometimes one- dimensional experiences. That is also often the case with neighborhood parks or community gardens, which could have much stronger impact as community destinations. Project for Public Spaces, with support from the Kresge Foundation, is addressing the lack of place in communities by building on the growth of neighborhood farmers’ markets in Detroit. Farmers’ mar- kets offer an opportunity for short term, immediate steps to enhance access to fresh, local food and to use the gathering power of markets as catalysts for retail development while building a stronger sense of community. While the city is developing its Detroit Works plan for the future, small scale, focused interventions in targeted neighborhoods can send a strong message to residents about the power of community in neighborhood revitalization. Central Detroit is a neighborhood with a lot of basic needs. Despite its location in the United States, it shares many problems with the Global South. Many residents are out of work. Many don’t own cars, and the public transit system is utterly inadequate. Safety and security are a major concern — the city can’t even keep up with repairing broken streetlights. A lot of houses are abandoned and occupied by squatters. Last fall PPS was thrilled to be part of a very successful harvest festival outside the wonderful Central Detroit produce market Peaches & Greens (with key support from the Kresge Foundation and working with the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation). Although flanked by vacant lots, Peaches & Greens proved to be the right spot for the festival — and the event showed how this could evolve into an even better place for the neighborhood to come together. The tough conditions faced by local people made the response to the festival even more heartening. People were ready to jump right in and become part of something more meaningful. They provided a lot of practical ideas for activities could be taking place around Peaches & Greens on a more regular basis. One thing we heard from a lot of local residents was that they are eager to see more communi- ty-building events in the neighborhood. 22
  • 27. Placemaking and the Future of Cities A harvest festival and community celebration temporarily trans- As there was no formal public space, the festival was formed the atmosphere in an inner-city Detroit neighborhood. held in the street and the parking lot of the produce market. 23
  • 28. Project for Public Spaces Reinvent Community Planning Case Study: Nairobi, Kenya Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) trans- forms impoverished communities by collaborating with residents to create low-cost, high-impact built environ- ments (Productive Public Spaces) that improve their daily lives. Begun in 2006, KDI is an innovative international part- nership specializing in the practices of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and urban planning. KDI believes that participatory planning and design are key to sustainable develop- ment. By working collaboratively with communities from conception through implementation, they build on the ideas Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) transforms impoverished communities by collaborating with residents to create low-cost, high-impact built of local residents, enhance them with environments (Productive Public Spaces) that improve their daily lives. technical knowledge and design in- Photo Credit: KDI novation, and connect them to extant resources. In doing so, KDI empowers communities to advocate for themselves and address the major physical, social, and economic challenges they face. In early 2011, KDI identified a space in Nairobi’s largest informal settlement, Kibera, for a third Public Space Project – a site that lies along the river that runs through the settlement. The two large riverbanks here flood during the rainy season, and the site is used for waste dis- posal throughout the year. Poor drainage along the access roads greatly decreases residents’ pedestrian access to and from Opening celebration, Kibera Public Space Project 03. their houses, although the two banks are Photo Credit: Miss Emily Lowery connected by a bridge. Despite pollu- tion, the river is currently used as a play area for children, a laundry area for families, and gathering area for nearby residents. During summer 2011 the KDI Kenya team conducted numerous community workshops with residents and the community partners to prioritize needs, create design solutions, and explore micro-enterprise opportunities at the site. The resulting project design includes: a poultry farm; an improved drainage channel; flood control; a community center to house a school and health clinic; kiosks; and a play- ground constructed from locally sourced lumber and recycled metal. 24
  • 29. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Power of 10 Case study: Nairobi, Kenya The informal settlement of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya, is home to roughly 200,000 people. It is a place where public spaces are completely overlooked, with infrastructure that is shockingly inadequate to meet the needs of the people who live there. But there are exceptions, and the Silanga Sports Field is one of them. This soccer field was formerly run down, polluted, and a magnet for crime. But a local group called the Kilimanjaro Initiative has been working steadily over the last few years to upgrade it. They have leveled the field so that it is fit to play on, improved the drainage system, and started programming the space with concerts and other events. As a result, the field has been transformed from a barren, unsafe waste space and is now a magnet for the community. In order to make the space even more attractive and safe for Kibera’s residents, PPS recently met on site with local residents and city council staff to brainstorm about how to create synergy and connec- tions among the facilities already located here, including a primary school, a public toilet, a commu- nity garden, a playground, a river, a pottery studio, a meeting hall, and a resource center. The focus became less on the sports field and more on how to maximize the use and potential of all of the resources at Silanga Sports Field, to make it a true destination for the neighborhood, creating a ripple of positive effects. This is the Power of 10 at work. Presenting recommendations at the Power of 10 work- The Kibera Silanga sports field as it looks today. shop in Nairobi. Photo credit: Vanessa September 25
  • 30. Project for Public Spaces Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda Case study: Bogotá, Colombia The Colombian city of Bogotá is one where the divide between rich and poor had long been in- grained in the city’s fabric, with many parts of the city suffering from economic and geographic isola- tion. Over the last 20 years, the city’s leaders, notably former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, have embarked on a citywide campaign to use public space and transportation systems to bridge the social divide and create opportunity for all of Bogotá’s citizens. Central to the campaign has been the development of the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system, which provides fast, efficient, and reasonably priced public transportation to large areas of the city. Some 1.4 million people ride the system daily, and when it is completed there will be 388 kilometers of route, achieved at a fraction of the cost that an underground metro system would have cost. Another key aspect of the holistic approach that Bogotá has taken to its transformation is the Ciclo- vía. Each Sunday and on holidays, for several hours, most streets of the city are closed to cars so that people can enjoy biking, walking, and various recreational activities in the streets. These events have helped to raise awareness of the negative impact that car traffic has on people’s lives, and have been a key part of the city’s ongoing effort to regain street space for pedestrians and bicycles. City leaders also cracked down on sidewalk parking; pedestrianized Jimenez Avenue, the main street downtown; and introduced a system that restricted car use during rush hour. Peñalosa also led an effort to increase green space and playing fields in neighborhoods around Bogotá. The result has been a decrease in crime and gang activity. Many citizens who were formerly without recreational options can now enjoy safe, healthy outdoor activities that are inclusive of wom- en and children. Ciclovía has reinvigorated Bogotá’s city centre, increased safety, Ciclovía spurred the pedestrianization of streets and the supported active living, and exercise, and created a stronger sense transformation of vacant lots into parks. This increased the of community for Bogota’s citizens. The bike routes traverse the amount and quality of public space in the city. rich and poor areas of the city alike. 26
  • 31. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment Case study: Gyrumi, Armenia Gyrumi, Armenia is a city struck hard by a 1988 earthquake that left 25,000 people dead and 100,000 more without homes. In 2001, Aram Khachadurian, former PPS Chief Operating Officer, joined the Urban Institute to help build thousands of housing units for the displaced families, who were still living in temporary shelters in public spaces all over the city. With the success of this rehousing program, the central square was again available to the public, opening the way to plan its revitalization. In July 2003, a grant from the Academy for Educational Development brought PPS to Gyumri to facilitate the first effort since the earthquake to recapture some of the civic life that had characterized this cultural center. Local project partners included the Urban Institute and a local steering committee of architects, planners, NGOs, and city officials. Despite fears that this public involvement effort would fail because, in Armenia’s 6,000-year history, such participation has been virtually unknown, more than 70 people attended a daylong Placemaking workshop. The enthusiasm immediately sparked a cross-sector collaboration in the city on an unprecedented scale. The result was the “New Gyumri Festival and Placemaking EXPO,” which occurred just two months later. The people of Gyumri saw their square full of people (some 35,000) for the first time in anyone’s memory. Among the lengthy list of events and improvements were: • a flower market, which has since become a regular bi-weekly event • a roller-skating rink with new asphalt surfacing • a giant chessboard made out of plywood by the local chess club • seven cafés • night lighting • striping to direct traffic correctly • an installation of new street furniture • an art fair • performances, dances, wrestling matches, gymnastics, and children’s programs • flower gardens planted by the church • new banners and street signage • daily TV news broadcasts This catalytic event has been followed by more events on the square, and is part of a larger civic resurgence. Today, Gyrumi continues its recovery, with many officials well aware of the power of LQC interventions. 27
  • 32. Project for Public Spaces The site that housed refugees after the Armenian earthquake. The site was used for a three-day festival of art, food, and experimentation which turned this long-neglected site into a vibrant central square. 28
  • 33. Placemaking and the Future of Cities Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment Case study: Brno, Czech Republic Many cities are confronted with the challenge of converting a historically valuable industrial property that is no longer used for its original purpose, and which represents an opportunity to bring in new uses. These factories capture people’s imagination because they have flexible spaces that can poten- tially be used for many kinds of activities. However architecturally dramatic they may be, the size and scale of these spaces makes it difficult to find new uses for them. In Brno, the Czech Republic, the Vankovka factory, with PPS assistance, was saved from demolition and designated an historic landmark. An NGO was set up to promote a community-based vision for the complex, an impressive series of industrial halls and loft spaces located adjacent to the historic city center. The NGO sponsored hundreds of events in the space, making temporary improvements to make the spaces usable. Based on the popular support, the city purchased the factory complex. The former factory is now a thriving shopping center and events venue, with shops, cafés, and restau- rants -- a real destination for the city of Brno. Vankovka factory before. Vankovka factory after. 29
  • 34. Project for Public Spaces Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces Case study: Mexico In Mexico, SEDESOL, the Mexican Ministry of Social Development, has “rescued” 42,000 public spaces across the country in the past five years. Rescue of Public Spaces is a program that promotes the realization of social actions and the execu- tion of physical works to restore community meeting places, social interaction, and everyday recre- ation in insecure and marginalized urban areas. The goals are to help improve the quality of life and safety through the revitalization of public spaces in cities and metropolitan areas across Mexico, thereby promoting healthy living. Furthermore, the initiative is intended to link urban development to social development; promote community organization and participation; increase community safety and prevent antisocial activity; and help strengthen the sense of community belonging, social cohesion, and equitable relationships among genders. In Mexico, the SEDESOL program is using an integrated ap- proach toward creating safe, inclusive, and healthy public spaces by connecting all branches of government and improv- ing communication with citizens. 30
  • 35. Placemaking and the Future of Cities 31