Public spaces are integral to healthy and prosperous cities. This was the theme of a major conference last week in the run-up to next year’s Habitat III global summit. Place-making needs to be seen as contributing to the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Future of Places conference in Stockholm was the third and last in a series that has brought together leading thinkers an practitioners from many countries. The meetings feed into the principles of the Global Charter and Draft UN-Habitat Toolkit on Public Space. The definition of public space includes streets, alleys, squares, parks, playgrounds, gardens, open spaces, and public facilities and venues. “Public space is open and accessible to all people; public place is a social space with cultural and shared meaning” say the organisers.
A set of eight key messages has been produced. These are:
- Local governments should adopt a participatory, people-centred approach to urban planning.
- Design and allocation of public space should recognise the needs of vulnerable groups, including including the elderly, the disabled, youth, and low income groups.
- Public space needs to respect human scale and behaviour.
- Create a citywide network of streets and public spaces, planning not only the space itself, but its form, function and connectivity.
- Investing in public space can have powerful social, economic, cultural and health benefits.
- The market alone does not always provide what is needed – a variety of open places, including semi-public and semi-private space.
- Public space and the buildings that surround and define it need to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.
- Public space is made unique through cultural and contextual elements.
I was one of four co-authors of a paper about the Young Placemakers™ initiative of PAS. Our paper can be found in the Children and Youth section of the list here. It describes the way PAS has worked with 16-20 year olds in the Loch Lomond National Park and on TayPlan.