Why should we try to create great public spaces?
Date published 1 September 2017
Although they may not seem like it in some cases, public spaces are often the centrepiece of any city or town. Without us realising it, they can have a substantial affect on our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. This is why its important to create public spaces that really work to improve these aspects of our everyday lives. In this article, we look at exactly how a public space is important, and ways in which we can develop great public spaces for the community.
How do you define a ‘public space’?
A ‘public space’ refers to a variety of areas within urban communities that are freely accessible to citizens, regardless of their size, design, or features. It is intended primarily for amenity or recreational purposes, and may be a gathering spot for the community or just an area within the public realm. This includes everything from plazas, town squares, and shopping centres to parks, piers, and lobbies.
Why are public spaces important in communities?
In the ‘concrete jungles’ that are cities, public spaces like parks are a welcome pause to the hustle and bustle of city life. They’re places where people can come to decompress from stress, finish some work, socialise, or get physically active. Parks also hold a lot of health benefits, given they can lessen air, climate, and water pollution. In general, public spaces are perhaps most important for their social uses. Community can be created anywhere, but there must be an open and accessible space for members of the community to congregate for certain events or projects. Meeting friends, neighbours, family or even just getting comfortable interacting with local strangers, can give people a strong sense of attachment to their community and the place that fosters these kinds of social interactions.
What makes great public spaces?
A great public space design is characterised by its accessibility, attractiveness, uses, and social capabilities. It should be easy to reach and navigate, with clear visibility from a distance as well as up close. Of course, it also has to be attractive and appeal to the community as a safe, clean area with plenty of spaces to sit and entertain. Yet ultimately, public spaces need to have something to offer in order to be useful and give the community a reason to keep coming back. Being a hub for social activities will play a big part in this, and is what often cements the importance of public spaces by making them part of community life.
At the end of the day, taking the time to ensure public spaces are characterised by these features will serve to improve the day-to-day lives of local populations. Though we may often take them for granted, public spaces are the areas in which we often come to alleviate stress and engage with members of the community. This is subsequently why we must work to create great public spaces that benefit all members of society.