PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES
At the Urban Age Conference in Delhi last November, head of UN-Habitat Joan Clos stressed the need for a new paradigm for shaping communities around the world, whether in rural areas or urban centers. When asked if that meant that government(s) would need to change as well, Dr. Clos replied with a brief and direct “yes,” before returning to his seat. Much urbanization (like this development on the outskirts of Guadalajara) is project-led where public space is barely thought about and place will be difficult to create. Dr. Clos has been suggesting urbanization start instead with public space. | Photo by PPS At PPS, we recognize the urgency of this call. We are also deeply aware of the challenges facing our cities—challenges that have in many ways been intensified by today’s unprecedented rates of urbanization such as social segregation, traffic congestion, inequity, unplanned sprawl, and environmental degradation. But even despite these global pressures, cities also contain unique tools and opportunities for confronting these issues—they have long been sites of great social transformation and democratic action, and they continue to be powerful engines of economic growth and innovation. To harness these opportunities, though, as Dr. Joan Clos has argued, “requires a shift in mindset away from seeing urbanization as a problem. Instead, we need to approach urbanization as a solution.”
PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES
4. A Man, a Plan, a Market: The Lighter Quicker Cheaper Transformation of a Rural Kentucky Main Street April 5, 2016 How did the small Appalachian city of Corbin, Kentucky reduce its downtown vacancy rate from 40% to nearly 0% in only three years? The answer lies in part with a thriving local food movement, the 2013 opening of a new farmers market on Main Street, and a strong community that is willing to go to great lengths to support the both town and each other. Says Main Street Manager Andy Corbin: “By treating our farmers market as an incubator for agricultural and artisan-based entrepreneurship, we’ve been able to direct people that are growing into some vacant storefronts downtown, and this has had a multiplying effect …” The market has helped bring more than 20 new businesses downtown. 5. Light, Quick, Cheap: 5 Placemaking Projects That Inspire Us February 11, 2016 Great public spaces do not have to be design-heavy, multi-million dollar projects situated in city centers. In fact, sometimes the most exciting spaces are low-key, low-cost, and in the most unexpected locations. In this piece, we highlight 5 of our favorite LQC projects, each featured in our Lighter Quicker Cheaper Resource Page. Each of these examples powerfully demonstrates how quick, low-cost implementations can generate positive and visible change in public spaces, while simultaneously addressing multiple community issues such as education, accessibility, safety, public health, and wellness. 6. The Ethics of Building Great Communities March 11, 2016 All of us are involved in shaping cities, places, and communities. Whether the project we are working on is a private development or a public open space, it is important that we strive to accommodate human activity by developing tangible elements (such as design, function, physical infrastructure, and programming) alongside intangible elements (like identity, community, interaction, and accessibility). At Project for Public Spaces, our work is rooted in an implicit system of values, and we have developed eleven principles to guide us in this practice. But while these principles tell us what to do, it is also important to consider why we are doing it. This article outlines a set of guidelines that could become the basis for a new professional ethic. 7. Beyond Food: Community Gardens as Places of Connection and Empowerment March 2, 2016 Because of disputes over land, access to green space, and equal rights to the city, urban gardens have become a symbol of community activism and empowerment, and they are part of a contemporary grassroots movement supporting environmental justice, collective action, and equitable access to nutrition and good health. Due in part to the current swell of interest in the local food movement, since the early 2000s there has been a remarkable surge in the prevalence of community garden initiatives. This piece describes some of the many interrelated benefits that that these collectively held (and sometimes contested) spaces can bring to urban neighborhoods. 8. Challenge: Explore Your Community with the Power of 10 March 15, 2016 This article offers a participatory challenge for our readers: the next time you go for a walk, think about your city, neighborhood, or favorite space in the context of the Power of 10. So, what is the Power of 10? Places thrive when there are at least 10 things to do, arranged in such a way as to create social linkages. Scaling this up, a specific destination or neighborhood needs at least 10 places, that offer people a reason to visit and spend time there. One more level up, a city needs at least 10 major destinations, creating a powerful network of a thousand things to do. To quote Holly Whyte, “you can see a lot by observing.” This step-by-step exercise will give you a sense of how your city, neighborhood, or place can improve, and is the foundation of a city-wide placemaking campaign. 9. Place Governance through Neighborhood Planning Offices March 23, 2016 For twenty years, Toronto city planners worked in storefront offices in the very communities they served. Planners got to know neighborhoods firsthand and developed working relationships with citizens, resulting in improved plans and public trust. A perfect example of Place Governance! Why does it work? “People living in the neighborhood are experts about their neighborhood.” 10. Go Pokémon GO! The Social Life of Virtual Urban Spaces July 27, 2016 This past summer, we saw Pokémon GO become a global phenomenon in just a few weeks. And while many were unsure about the mobile game (in fact, some openly hated it), it surely encouraged more folks to get out and use public space. Pokémon GO highlights Holly Whyte‘s idea of Triangulation, providing a linkage between people and prompting strangers to talk to one another as if they knew each other. If nothing else, the fact that Pokémon GO has brought people out into the streets fits comfortably with PPS’s views about the importance of activities in public space. People need to have a reason to be, and stay, in a particular place, and a great place draws lots of people because it has lots of reasons to be there. Pokémon GO undoubtedly offers one more reason to be out in our communities together.
The pedestrian piazzas being carved out from vehicular thruways at Times Square and Herald Square in New York City are testimony to the critical need for public space in our cluttered mega-cities. But public space is not merely the passive residue of a decision to ban cars or a tacit invitation to the public to step into the street. It must be actively created and self-consciously sustained against the grain of an architecture built as much for machines as people, more for commercial than common use. In a word, public spaces are built, not natural; they are the result of constructive intervention rather than laissez-faire disinterest. There is an “art of public space,” which requires more than no-car signs, traffic cones, concrete barriers, tables and chairs. Happily, New York possesses an urban resource ideally suited to creating public space: artists. Now that the Department of Transportation has temporarily liberated some space from automobiles–city officials will decide at the end of the year whether to extend the traffic ban–it needs to shape that space in ways that invoke democracy, attract usage and make it “public” in the deep sense of commonality, interactivity, connectivity and community. The idea of creative public space will not fail, but New York may fail to realize it. To succeed, public space will demand greater public investment and better understanding of the role artists and the arts play in putting such investment to imaginative uses. These notions yield two mandates. First, they call for greater public investment in public space and in the arts that help shape such spaces. And second, they call for greater understanding of the role artists and the arts play in putting public investment to imaginative uses. One such example of public space innovation is artist Paul-Felix Montez's Peace walkway project, a global art installation for any city and it's park systems all linked by a smart phone app and much more: http://peacewalkway.org
“Public space is the new backyard,” says Hamish Dounan, Associate Director of CONTEXT Landscape architects. “Great landscape architecture projects can actually get people out of their apartments and going for walks. It can get them engaging in a social way,” adds Shahana Mackenzie, CEO of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA). Trends to activate public spaces are increasing in popularity around the world; urban parks and gardens, vibrant street places, wider pedestrian walkways, cafes with outdoor seating. So during the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture held in Canberra during October 2016, Street Furniture Australia launched a pop-up park in the underused urban space of Garema Place, in collaboration with AILA, the ACT Government and In The City Canberra. The aim of the pop-up park was to create a small social experiment, “to test the theory that the fastest and most cost-effective way to attract people is to provide more places to sit.” In addition to moveable furniture, the design by CONTEXT Landscape architects included bright colours, additional lighting, a lawn, free Wi-Fi and bookshelves as techniques to make Garema Place more inviting. To see a project which can be installed in nay city and uses smart tech go to: http://peacewalkway.org
What makes a city great? Museums and culture, sure. Maybe a good opera company or a constellation of dance crews. Bars with fresh garnishes, good schools, a historic building or 20. Maybe your first answer here isn’t “a park!” or “that dinky plaza near my office where I eat lunch twice a week!” Yet more and more research says that open public spaces and streets are a key to making a city great—for nature and bench designers, sure, but not just that. These are where people gather naturally, to socialize and, in a politicized time, to protest. And those two functions make public space the key to the economic and social health of cities. Urban planners have long known what’s up. In the late 1970s, the sociologist William H. Whyte famously creeped on public plazas in New York City to determine which ones fostered community and activity and which didn’t. Last month, just before the Women’s March descended on New York’s 5th Avenue, 13 design, architecture, and civics experts wrote an open letter to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio recommending ways to return New York City’s land to its citizens. They pitched increasing the size and number of local parks and plazas, improving access to these gathering places, and pedestrianizing major thoroughfares in midtown Manhattan. In other words: Give people more beautiful, functional space to do with as they please—whether those activities involve posterboard and bullhorns or just sunbathing with friends. “Public spaces should fundamentally allow for expression,” says Shin-pei Tsay, a signatory to the De Blasio letter and head of the Gehl Institute, an urban research and advocacy organisation. READ FULL Wired article Visit globally innovative 21st-century multi peace award, landscape urban planning architecture award winning park art installations which address this vast social community need in cities worldwide and links them together through smart technologies for world peace and more: http://peacewalkway.org
MAJOR NEW YORK CITY ART CRITIC: JERRY SALTZ of New York Magazine "Likes" Peace walkway on Twitter. Validates art value of over all peace walkway project.
New Gandhi museum South Africa plans install of peace walkway.
Kumara New Zealand, Sydney & Melbourne Australia, Miami Florida USA, Peace town United Kingdom, Tuscon Arizona USA and many more full installs underway.
Ted talks finalist UCLA 2016 "wise cities versus smart cities"
TUSCON, ARIZONA USA SEEKS INSTALL
Tuscon Arizona, for new parks project.
Land 8 and Archinet plus other major global landscape architects, urban planners, urban designers organizations endorsements world wide.
published architecture articles