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Articles on Public space

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Finding a washroom during either a pandemic or a protest within a pandemic is an issue about how free and accessible our urban spaces are. (Shutterstock)

Finding a place to pee during a pandemic or a protest shouldn’t be so hard

Public washrooms are an essential service and the people who maintain them are essential workers. But what happens when a pandemic closes public bathrooms and a civil rights protest breaks out?
At a deserted Federation Square in Melbourne, the big screen broadcasts this message: ‘If you can see this, what are you doing? Go home.’ Cassie Zervos/Twitter

We don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone – we must reclaim public space lost to the coronavirus crisis

Current restrictions remind us of the value of access to public space and one another. Yet even before COVID-19 some people were excluded and targeted, so a return to the status quo isn't good enough.
Our mental health benefits when nature is part of our neighbourhoods, as in this residential street in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Melanie Thomson

Biodiversity and our brains: how ecology and mental health go together in our cities

It's well-established that green spaces are good for our well-being. Now we can demonstrate that greater biodiversity boosts this benefit, as well as helping to sustain native plants and animals.
Some publicly accessible spaces are actually privately owned public spaces such as Brisbane’s popular South Bank city beach and streets scene. Flickr/Thirumurugan P

Explainer: What is public space and why does it need protecting?

As you walk about a city are you in public or private space? The line is often blurred.
One nine-year-old chose his local supermarket as a place he valued because he could “spend time with mum and help decide what goes in our trolley”. Shutterstock

Public places through kids’ eyes – what do they value?

When primary school children in a disadvantaged part of Sydney were asked to map what they valued in the area, their choices were revealing and sometimes surprising.
Sea Line Park, one of the shortlisted entries in the competition to design a new park for the Melbourne of 2050. Future Park Design Ideas Competition

Why we need ‘crazy’ ideas for new city parks

Some might scoff at the free-ranging ideas sparked by a competition to design future parks for Melbourne. But the legacy of a radical idea to green a CBD street in 1985 shows why we need such thinking.
The benefits of ‘superblocks’ for Barcelona include better health, access to green space and other public space, and more transport-related physical activity. Orbon Alija/iStock

Superblocks are transforming Barcelona. They might work in Australian cities too

The Spanish city is remaking urban neighbourhoods by limiting through traffic in superblocks that give priority to pedestrians and street activities, not cars.
Union Square: contentious political rallies helped progressive social reformers argue for the protection of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington DC, USA

How New York’s Union Square helped shape free speech in the US

New York's Union Square is an important site in American labor history. One scholar's research illustrates the shifting meanings and inherent tensions of public space as an epicenter of civic life.
Hong Kong protesters have exploited the public space of the city’s streets as well as digital space. Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

How Hong Kong protesters have been winning the battle for public space

Hong Kong has few recognisable public places and none with the space for huge numbers of protesters. Instead, they have co-opted the streets and digital media as public spaces for protest.
Imagine Hyde Park in Sydney without its tree cover … the impact on this space and the many people who spend time in it would be profound. EA Given/Shutterstock

Increasing tree cover may be like a ‘superfood’ for community mental health

Cities around Australia have plans to increase their green space, but new research shows not all green spaces are equal. Good tree cover is better than grassed areas for residents' mental health.
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.

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