News and views from our members.
Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Urban Design Forum or its supporting institutes.
how can we design better public spaces?
In the process of re-urbanising our cities to be more suited for people, public spaces have become a key component of many regeneration and redevelopment schemes. Active public spaces are a vital ingredient for liveable cities, thriving economy and socially cohesive society. To improve the quality of public space design, place-making principles of human-centred design and stakeholder engagement are increasingly being advocated. There are many place-making design guidelines and books on how to design spaces that are meaningful, adaptable and well-used. However, something doesn’t seem to be working. Shopping streets are continually redeveloped to re-invigorate them and initially popular shiny new public spaces turn into places-less spaces after a few years, despite including everything communities have requested? What is it that we are missing when designing public realm, and how can we design better public spaces?
“What are the key ingredients in building a successful and sustainable city?”
I recently visited Newport Beach in Southern California to see whether entrepreneurial heritage, tempered exclusivity and resilience can be successfully coupled in order to establish a unique urban brand.
Captain Samuel S. Dunnells winged an entry into the South Californian dangerous harbour in 1870. On hearing this the Irving brothers agreed to found a port here and called it simply “New Port”. The settlement became a lively commercial port with fishing and shipbuilding. The MacFadden Brothers, among others, saw housing opportunities and created some artificial islands in the harbour waters. One Island was called Balboa was connected by a bridge to the mainland and by a small car ferry to the peninsula, which still operates today. This is a highly sustainable measure as it reduces driving times around the peninsula to the North.
In March I attended the 2019 Transportation Group New Zealand Conference “the changing face of transport”. I left conference feeling that the transport industry understands the need to enable sustainable transport and is taking action to deliver it. I also spoke on mode bias, meaning the inherent bias towards the needs of motor vehicle users. Here are some excerpts from my conference presentation with notes on complementary points picked up at conference!
What is car dependency?
• Conscious car dependency is when people with modal choice consciously choose to drive. Structural car dependency is due to lack of choice. Mode shift barriers can be caused by hard factors such as time and cost or soft factors such as status around the mode and the quality of the travel experience.
• Mode biases exist in policy, laws, taxes, budget allocation, language, culture and design and investment assessment tools. These all need to be addressed.
how design interventions have impacted our public realm
UDF's debate pitted some of the built environment industry’s best and brightest against one another in a public-private contest on the effectiveness of Urban Design in the past 15 years to create better environments in New Zealand with the proposition being: Urban Design: The Panacea we had hoped for?
The idea of the event was to deliberate what has happened in the field of Urban Design since the Urban Design Protocol was released in 2005 and how these design interventions have impacted our public realm.
At the same time as Phil Twyford is sitting down with Government officials to nut out how to operationalise the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development he also has two sets of proposals on better frameworks for urban design to add to the mix.
As added to the UDF blog this week the organisers of Urbanism New Zealand 2018 have released five proposals based off the back of a post-conference workshop of 22 delegates. The proposals seek: