Articles on Public space

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Dalian is an emerging city and tourist destination in China, but its urban spaces could be improved in many ways. Paul J Martin/Shutterstock

China can learn from Australian urban design, but it’s not all one-way traffic

Australia has well established urban design guidelines, whereas many Chinese cities don't have any – and it shows. But Australia can also learn from China.
Bright light does not necessarily make a space feel safer, as seen here where there’s a sharp drop-off into dark shadows at the edge of the path. grafxart/Shutterstock

More lighting alone does not create safer cities. Look at what research with young women tells us

Bright lighting alone does not make a space feel safe. It can blind and disorientate and create dark shadows at the edges. Tellingly, 'unsafe' places had much higher illuminance than 'safe' places.
New housing estates on the city fringes might be soulless, cookie-cutter developments, but communities can invest them with layers of meaning that create a sense of place. Lukas Coch/AAP

How to turn a housing development into a place where people feel they belong

A sense of place matters for people and communities. When a suburb is created from scratch, close attention needs to be paid to the cues from the landscape and meanings people attach to the area.
Larger-than-life advertising is nothing new for our cities – this billboard is at the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets in Melbourne. jadecraven/Shutterstock

Selling out the city to advertising? Nothing new to see here

Both Melbourne and Sydney have been embroiled in controversy over advertising that dominates public space, but the debate isn't new. In fact, it's almost as old as our cities.
In an urban setting like central Footscray, where only 1% of the area is public space, the value of the humble footpath needs to be recognised. Yvonne Meng

Don’t forget the footpath – it’s vital public space

Footpaths are a valuable space for everyday social activity, but their role is often overlooked. In increasingly dense urban areas such as Footscray, footpaths are essential public spaces.
Mosques like the one in Lakemba, Sydney, were among the few places of belonging where Muslims could feel safe from Islamophobia. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Christchurch attacks strike at the heart of Muslims’ safe places from Islamophobia

Muslims need places where they feel safe from Islamophobia. And being made to feel unwelcome has lasting impacts – Muslims still avoid Cronulla beach, the scene of anti-Muslim riots in 2005.
Uninviting, car-dominated streets, like this one in Melbourne, reduce our experience menu by discouraging beneficial activities like walking and sharing places with other people. Daniel Bowen/Flickr

Is your ‘experience diet’ making you unwell?

If the menu of potential activities that do us good is made to look uninviting or challenging, we are more likely to choose the easier but less healthy option.
Seven years after Tahrir Square became the focal point of the Egyptian Revolution, towering metal gates now control access. Ahmed Abd El-Fatah/Wikimedia

How city squares can be public places of protest or centres of state control

Today’s urban public spaces tend to represent governments and cities rather than people and citizens. Architects and urban designers should contribute to shaping spaces for freedom and interaction.
A public barbecue in Lyndhurst, New South Wales, does the job but could be so much better. Mattinbgn/Wikimedia

The public barbie, an Aussie icon frozen in time

The need for public cooking facilities has long been recognised, but why has the basic public barbecue failed to evolve along with Australians, their lifestyles and the foods they eat?
Being in a park tends to make people feel more positive, although the time of day and the season also affect their moods. leungchopan/Shutterstock

Tweet all about it – people in parks feel more positive

The positive mood of tweets varies with time of day and season, but it's consistently higher in parks than in built-up areas, where people are more likely to express anger and fears.
A group of young Asian men play basketball in the evening at Prince Alfred Park, Sydney. icsnaps/Shutterstock

Pushing casual sport to the margins threatens cities’ social cohesion

Casual sport can help communities thrive. But for many of Australia's most marginal communities, it's becoming harder to find a place to play.
Originating in the Netherlands, the concept of ‘woonerfs’, areas designed to invite walking, playing, socialising and cycling while curbing motor vehicles, has spread to cities in other countries, including Berlin. Eric Sehr/Flickr

Designing the compassionate city to overcome built-in biases and help us live better

All around us, the places we inhabit send us physical and visual cues that influence our behaviour. Good design can tilt the balance so our surroundings help us act in ways that fulfil our needs.

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