Panelists & Paper Presenters

A.

Mariam Abdelazim, Program Manager, The Institute for Public Architecture. Reclaiming Tahrir Square

Public space is the gateway to civil society, the place where community members become equal, and a social space where people can communicate, interact and express themselves and their opinions freely. In Egypt, public space emerged as indispensable after the 2011 revolution, when Tahrir Square was re-appropriated to accommodate thousands of protesters from different levels of society. Since then Tahrir Square, which literally means Liberation Square, became the emblem of the freedom of expression around the world. The Square transformed from an overlooked and unused public space to a platform for political dissent. It was primarily a leftover space between the royal palaces that were built in the nineteenth century as part of redesigning downtown Cairo à la française. Later, the square witnessed protests against the British occupation of Egypt acquiring its current name ensuing the independence of Egypt. This paper unfolds the re-appropriation and transformation of Tahrir Square through tracking its history and evolution before and after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and investigating how the square is being used in the present day. It will start by tracing back the history of the formation of the square, then outlining the role it played as a civic space in the Egyptian revolutions and finally how it stands today as a public space.

Anirban Adhya, Associate Professor, Lawrence Technological University. The Detroit Conrail Greenway: A case of urban wilderness and placemaking

The city is an ecological system; the urban environment is a natural phenomenon, a habitat, a medium of expression, and a forum for action. This framework is examined using an advanced design studio studying urban wilderness--fragments of nature in a city--responding to processes of human-nature interaction. The study examines how ideas of nature influence the way spaces are perceived, designed, built, and managed; how natural processes and urban systems interact and what are the consequences for health, placemaking, and ethics. Given these conflicting attitudes and logics, how can architects identify opportunities to develop strategies for incorporating diverse habitats into the built environment? How can these habitats not only perform as such but also produce public resonance and visibility in the city?

The studio investigates these questions by considering the Detroit Conrail Greenway (an 8.3-mile long abandoned Conrail railroad property and a key part of the recently conceived Inner Circle Greenway in Detroit) as a case study. Using human-nature relationship and ecological well-being, the goal of the project is to explore placemaking through integration of density, mobility and open space. Students engage at multiple scales of Southeast Michigan, Detroit, and the green corridor, from proposing urban, landscape, and infrastructural interventions to developing comprehensive ecological system of the “urban wilderness.” The studio outcomes range from alternate transport system, phyto-remediation addressing brownfield issues, and medium density housing proposals as part of transit-oriented developments. Through the projects, sustainable urbanism is conceived as an ecological model of public health, placemaking, and social ethics.

Nur Atiqa Asri, Research Associate, Larisa Ortiz Associates. Making Space for Democracy: A study of the use of public space by migrant workers in Singapore

In 2013, Singapore witnessed a night of riots in the public spaces of Little India. A mob reaction to a fatal bus accident resulted in the destruction and chaos of streets, bus stops, and five footways within the ethnic enclave. Since then, there has been rising anti-foreigner sentiment amongst local residents and this has become most pronounced in public spaces. Low-skilled migrant workers can now easily be identified with certain public spaces around Singapore as they become isolated to parts of the city during days off.

This paper aims to highlight the lack of democracy and equity in Singapore’s public spaces by evaluating spatial democracy via a self-developed ‘checklist’ drawn from popular theories of democracy in political philosophy. The criteria were used to generate a checklist of criteria that can be applied to public spaces. Each criterion is indicated by one or more points of social observation, intercept survey finding, or statute. An observational study and analysis of two public spaces in Singapore show that both failed to engage a wide variety of cultural practices nor allow for discourse to check authority – primary traits of democratic public spaces. In comparison, the case study of Hong Kong critically highlights public spaces that allow for higher orders of democratic pursuit through insurgent activities and critical debate. The paper makes suggestions on policies and plans that will democratize the planning and design process in Singapore in order to create democratic public spaces.

B.

Sara Bagheri, City Councilwoman, City of Denton. Denton Community Market: A study in public space reclamation, small business incubation and improved social cohesion.

In 2009, a diverse group of Dentonites were brought together by a young woman's vision to create a local marketplace where local farmers and makers could sell direct to their neighbors each Saturday. With some help, they found an unused parking lot of an old County Courthouse and got to work.

Ostensibly, each Saturday morning from 8 a.m. -1 p.m. from the months of April through October, a group of folks got together to sell their homemade soaps, their homegrown greens, and listen to local music while their friends shopped for local wares. Six years later, the "unused" parking lot is surrounded by higher density development, revitalized historical buildings, more green space, and a cottage industry of food trucks.

What happened at the Denton Community Market for 24 Saturday mornings was more than the obvious buying and selling of goods. This paper will explore the ancillary effects of Denton's experiment with small scale capitalism on public space, redevelopment and community cohesion; comparing it to other local examples of economic development incentives and top-down place-making. For context, it will look broadly at global examples of the effect of small-scale capitalism on public space, examining bazaars in the Middle East, tianguis in Mexico, and open-air markets in Europe, with special focus on organically created marketplaces.

Dave Boyd, Senior Planner, City of Bothell (WA) Community Development Department. Big Time Revitalization of a Small City Downtown

In 2005, the small city of Bothell, Washington, embarked on a major downtown revitalization project. Spurred by the surplussing of 18 acres adjacent to the historic downtown core, an immediate challenge was how to do redevelopment on a relatively grand scale in a way that would build upon the small, but charming, Main Street.

A community driven planning effort resulted in adoption of an ambitious plan incorporating a shared vision, City actions and development regulations in 2009, the city’s centennial. Since then, one major state highway has been realigned, another is being converted into a European-style multiway boulevard, a stream that had long been piped has been daylighted, and the 18 acres, plus the old highway right-of-way, have been sold to private developers for new housing, retail, office, lodging, parks and entertainment facilities. By the end of 2016, nearly 900 dwelling units and 900,000 square feet of commercial space had been built, with more under construction and in the pipeline.

This presentation will describe how the City worked strategically with residents, businesses, developers, local institutions and other agencies to complete key catalyst projects and recruit new businesses. It will also address ongoing challenges, including providing housing affordable to the whole spectrum of a community that is rapid growth and sharply escalating housing costs. The emerging downtown builds upon the traditional small-town core, creating distinctive places for community gathering, shopping and celebrations.

Calvin Brook, Director, Indigenous Place Making Council. The Power of Indigenous Place Making

Indigenous Canadians constitute 1.5 million people or four percent of Canada’s population. Though a comparatively small cohort of the population, they are heir to a legacy of 15,000 years of history on Canadian land and water. Non-Indigenous Canadians constitute 35 million people and at best can lay claim to 500 years or four percent of Canada’s 15 millennia timeline of human settlement.

However, when we look at the fabric of Canadian communities and the character of public spaces, the expression of Indigenous culture is virtually invisible. Compounding this distorted identity, over 60 percent of Indigenous Canadians now live in urban areas. Though Indigenous people constitute the fastest growing segment of Canadian society, there is little in the make-up of its communities that acknowledges the rich and diverse contributions of the founding peoples.

What does belonging look like if nothing of your culture, history, language or art is visible in the streets, parks, and buildings where you live and work – how can you ever feel welcome there?

This session will feature key projects and initiatives of the Indigenous Place Making Council. IPMC is a non-profit network that is transforming Canadian public space as ‘inclusive-circles’ bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens together in beautiful spaces of learning, culture, ceremony and celebration. Council projects emphasize Indigenous-led, co-design processes that provide internships and training for Indigenous youth while kick-starting Indigenous industries, technologies and employment.

This session will be presented by two directors of the Council.

C.

Jassen Callender, Associate Professor/Director, Jackson Center, Mississippi State University School of Architecture. Thresholds of Piazzas

Few deny the extraordinary sense of placed-ness, or at-home-ness, one feels in great European piazzas. A quick glance at a few examples creates the impression that the materials and techniques required to construct such places are few in number and rather easy to emulate. A vast expanse of cobblestone, a near continuous enclosure of three- to five- story buildings, perhaps a fountain or sculpture, and a view of open sky. The proportions vary but fall within a rather narrow range. The formula is rather simple, and it has been followed in many places around the US.

Unfortunately, very few American piazzas create a sense of place or home even where the physical formula has been followed. There are two reasons for this. First, American piazzas are seldom surrounded by the mix of types and hours of usage that frame European examples. Jane Jacobs wrote the seminal analysis of this problem in The Death and Life of Great American Cities 56 years ago. As a result, I will focus on the second reason American piazzas fail: too little attention is paid to differences in physical context.

This second reason is a variant of the first. But where Jacobs focused on contextual programs and uses, this paper will focus on the fundamental architectural notion of thresholds and how these frame experience. Specifically, I argue that the design of streets, gates and other transitional markers are more significant to the creation of sociable piazzas than quality or proportions of surfaces contained within.

Kyle L Campbell, Architect, Champlin Architecture. Square Roots: Fundamental Design Concepts for Successful Urban Squares

Urban squares filled with sense of place are difficult to find in American cities, particularly outside the coastal metropolitan regions. They are often treated as after-thoughts or trade-offs to “open space” in exchange for more building area, resulting either in spatial voids lacking character or in privatized public spaces reflecting corporate ownership. Yet, the urban square is historically the hub of public life within the city—a void filled with the intersection of people and activity. Treated appropriately, squares drive business development, reduce crime and enhance the city’s visual and social atmosphere. Designing meaningful voids (as it were) is no simple task, but it is necessary to activate the urban realm.

What key elements ground the ethereal concept of open, public space into an urban square with sense of place? Consequently, what elements are missing in the experience of failed spaces, and how can design play a role in creating desirable urban squares for all? While myriad factors contribute to the successful design of squares, there are five fundamental roots which transform open spaces into public dwelling places—Architecture, Enclosure, Inclusion, Observation and Utility. The present paper will unpack these square roots and offer graphic examples of both successful and unsuccessful implementation, providing the reader with insight to assess design of the public realm and, more broadly, to link principles of good urban design with the overall health of the city.

Ann Carpenter, Senior Community & Economic Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Public Transit and Equity: Examining the Link between Physical and Economic Mobility

One of the most tangible benefits of the public realm is the provision of affordable and efficient public transportation, particularly in large metropolitan areas. Low- and moderate-income households currently spend 60% of their income on housing and transportation, a disproportionately high figure that contributes to the increasing income inequality and wealth disparities in the U.S.

Transit advocates purport that greater access to public transit improves access to employment opportunities and services, and therefore improves economic mobility and reduces income inequality. However, few studies have demonstrated this effect empirically. This paper leverages emerging data on transit levels of service in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. to examine the link between robust public transportation (in terms of investment and accessibility) and decreased income inequality and increased economic mobility at the metropolitan level. It seeks to answer several policy-relevant questions, including whether metro areas that invest more in mass transit, improving mobility and accessibility to economic opportunities and reducing transportation costs, have higher household incomes and lower income inequality.

Our initial analysis of the 37 largest metropolitan areas with rail service shows a statistically significant correlation between transportation costs generated by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and higher levels of inequality using both the Gini coefficient of income inequality and the 90/10 income inequality ratio (the ratio between the lower limit of the highest quintile and the upper limit of the lowest quintile of income). This paper will extend these findings in a statistical model of income inequality outcomes.

Lucina Caravaggi, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture & Design, Sapienza University in Rome, ITALY. The project of new social condensers for metropolitan areas: landscape strategies to contrast urban and social marginality

The research hypothesis that our group is pursuing is that new and original landscape projects can concretely contribute to environmental and social reactivation of metropolitan areas, contrasting urban and social marginality .

Contemporary metropolitan areas are actually in a transition phase that exacerbate social vulnerability, that is to say a living situation in which autonomy and ability of self-determination of metropolitan citizens is permanently threatened. More and more people are far from the circuits of opportunities and cultural exchange, living in poor, fragile and degraded environments.

Our project, financed by European Union, aim to the realization of new social condensers: public facilities for fragile people to be realized in the most deprived urban areas through the recovery of underutilized or abandoned buildings (former rural, military, productive, and sanitary structures) and open spaces (both natural and rural).

The design attention to new possible interactions between innovative social services, open spaces, abandoned buildings of the contemporary city seem to have extraordinary potential for the activation of new forms of sociality, as many best practices in many European cities show. The relationship with agriculture and with the natural environment, the ability to carry out farming activities, supervision and care of environment and landscape play a significant role both therapeutically and for the self-sustenance of facilities, fostering social inclusion and employment. They are also evaluated positively by the community for the ability to supervise open spaces, making them safer, suitable for different possibilities of meeting and interactions, enhancing also degraded and marginal urban contexts.

Thomas L Coleman, Senior Supervising Planner, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. Chicago Little Village Paseo

The Chicago Department of Transportation, in coordination with the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development initiated a feasibility study of the Little Village Paseo, a proposed multi-use path that would replace an unused rail line in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. The path would provide needed open space to this vibrant community and provide a link to important community resources and public spaces. The limits of the proposed 1.3 mile path are from 26th Street & Western Avenue to 33rd Street near the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.

Called the "Mexico of the Midwest" by neighborhood residents, Little Village is Chicago’s most densely populated neighborhood. For years, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) has advocated for cleaning up the abandoned rail right-of-way and converting it to a pedestrian and bicycle trail.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff was the prime consultant contracted to conduct the Little Village Paseo Feasibility Study. The purpose of the study was to determine the path alignment, examine options for path/road crossings, and develop preliminary concepts for the path’s gateway areas. As part of the study, our technical work included the development of gateway design concepts plans, improving pedestrian and bicycle access, and analysis of a proposed multi-use path that would replace an unused rail line in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

Nicole M. Cromwell, Zoning Coordinator, Code Enforcement Supervisor, City/County Planning - City of Billings & Yellowstone County, MT. Supporting Shared Spaces & Shared Places Re-weaving civic life in neglected neighborhoods

Neighborhoods in small and mid-sized communities experience cycles of prosperity and neglect and ultimately achieve a modicum of equilibrium – or not. The pattern of post-WWII development around these core neighborhoods has unbalanced the equilibrium. Many struggle daily to keep the fabric of their shared spaces intact from unwanted public “improvements”. In some cases a new civic normal takes over and not-so-benign neglect is evident. Boulevard sidewalks are overgrown, street trees die off, graffiti sprouts on lampposts and in alleys, front yards fill with broken cars and trash and the residents feel a weariness of spirit. Those residents who still remember when everyone took pride in their place call in complaints to the city code enforcement office. They eventually give up complaining since “nothing ever seems to happen” to correct the problems. Small petty crimes also begin to escalate – disturbances, suspicious people in the area, vandalism – that eventually explode into serious social disorder.

But, what if we could intervene at the right moment? Could we stabilize a neighborhood, re-awaken a civic life in a neglected area? In 2005 and again in 2010, the City of Billings Code Enforcement Division, intervened in older residential neighborhoods that appeared to be teetering on the edge of a full-scale decline. In both instances, after a 2-month intensive effort, we found the neighborhoods were stabilizing with a steady decrease of petty crimes, fewer violations of property maintenance codes and increases in neighborhood investments.

D.

Mark De La Torre, & Urban Design Professional; Nicole Hofert, Planner, MIG Inc. This Space is Mine, Yours, and Ours: A Thoughtful Review of Public Spaces and Community Ownership

The public realm has long been a place for demonstration, interaction, and experience. Thus, this realm has been the focus of much careful study and thought through the years. Given that significance, these public places should belong to the community at large. With ownership comes pride and responsibility, both of which are foundational elements in establishing a sense of community. The perception of ownership in a public setting can decidedly determine the success or failure of a place. When the community collectively owns a space, the intrinsic riches that community reaps are innumerable.

To ensure collective and equitable ownership, public places within the community must be born out a democratic dialogue. This paper aims to guide that dialogue by employing a series of metrics with which to evaluate four built, public projects of varying scales and degrees of permanence. The metrics considered are: 1) functional efficiency, 2) social equity, 3) economic feasibility, 4) environmental sustainability, and 5) cultural sensitivity. While these metrics are not absolute, they provide a framework with which to analyze and understand how spaces can foster ownership and create lasting public spaces.

The intent of this research is not to determine the outright success or failure of these projects, but rather to learn from them. That knowledge can then inform a critical framework, comprised of appropriate metrics, to aid planners in creating spaces which enhance and support community ownership. The determination of success is a right that should always reside with those who own the space.

Julia Dewi, Dr., Pelita Harapan University, Tangarang, INDONESIA. Maintaining ‘Looseness’ to Transform Neighborhood Park into Site of Creative Expressions and Activities

Neighborhood parks are built to be a public space for communities. It is considered not only as greenery area but also to facilitate some activities. Indonesian Local government promote community activities by making many neighborhood parks, especially in three big cities such as Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. They persuade people and communities to use neighborhood parks as creative public space by provide many facilities. Some of it are made by certain intention according to creative activities expected to be held, when the others are allowed to remain loose so that it can accommodate free activities. Neighborhood parks as a loose space potentially to be used for free activities thus it can create problems or otherwise provide benefits. There are some characteristics that promote ‘looseness’ such as the variety of user, the adaptability to different users, fixed or non-fixed features, quality of multi-sensory, socio-culture identity and how they related to surrounding area. The using of loose space is also related to intended activities or unintended activities of the users. Some people come with some intentions and some people come without any intentions. Both of them can use the space in different ways to create activities and express themselves. This paper aims to observe how creative activities and expression can be promoted in some neighborhood parks by identification the characteristics of looseness especially physical features provided as facilities. The cases to be observed are some neighborhood parks with approximately similar size in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya.

Keywords: neighborhood parks, loose space, creative spaces, creative expressions

Emmalee Dolfi, GIS Project Manager – ParkServe, & Bob Heuer, Deputy Director of Urban GIS, The Trust for Public Land. The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore® and ParkServe™ - Mapping the Nation's Urban Parks and 10-Minute Walk Park Accessibility

The Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) ParkScore® Project uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to analyze how well parks and public open spaces in the 100 largest cities in the United States are meeting the residents’ needs for outdoor recreation and interaction with nature. TPL’s evaluation of the largest U.S. cities takes into account 10-minute walk park accessibility, the average size of parks, amount of park space, number of playgrounds, and park spending per resident—providing a broad-based comparison of different park systems. These results and analyses are publicly available, allowing easy, detailed comparisons of some of the largest park systems in the country. TPL’s ParkServe™ project builds on the success of ParkScore, taking it to the nationwide scale. Upon completion in the spring of 2018, ParkServe will map park locations and 10-minute walk park accessibility for all of Urban America, over 80% of the US population. This information will be publicly available through the ParkServe website, along with several interactive spatial tools to aid in prioritizing urban park development and improvement. By showing how many residents are able to reach a park in a ten-minute walk, ParkScore and ParkServe pinpoint underserved neighborhoods and guide local leaders in determining where to site parks and focus resources.

E.

Richard Economakis, Professor, University of Notre Dame. Preserving the Urban Integrity of the City of Bath, England

Since the summer of 2009, academic teams from the School of Architecture of the University of Notre Dame have turned their focus on the historic City of Bath, which despite its magnificent architecture and public spaces, is increasingly threatened by insensitive urban development. Notre Dame’s interest in Bath reflects its appreciation of the city’s admirable scale and consistency of expression, typological clarity, and above all its successful adaptation of classical architecture to emerging living patterns of the modern industrialized world. Bath exemplifies Georgian attitudes toward the making of cities which influenced early American architecture and planning, and which are now again embraced by advocates of the New Urbanism and traditional architecture. Despite resistance by concerned residents, many new urban extensions and infill projects continue to be motivated by a desire to maximize floor area and project their architects’ interests in personal expression and dubious notions of contemporaneity. Nor has Bath’s status as a World Heritage City served as a guarantor of architectural quality, as many design codes are subject to interpretation. The Notre Dame teams have identified some of the most sensitive areas in Bath’s urban fabric, e.g. Western Riverside, Green Park Station, Kingsmead Square, Manvers Street, and Narrow Quay, and produced a number of carefully-considered urban proposals which were presented to the City Council and other public officials in a series of visits. The proposals have since been merged into a larger masterplan for the city, which will be presented together for the first time in this conference.

F.

Lian Farhi, Urban Planner, Pratt Institute. Contextual Street Revitalization in a Changing Environment

Incorporating contextual design practice while addressing the needs of local residents during a planning process is an enormously challenging responsibility for planners. Current street revitalization projects are one example where this dynamic exists, demonstrating the ongoing shift towards prioritizing the complex needs of communities and suggesting a different hierarchy for elements in the public realm.

The main case study for this paper is the reconstruction plan for Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The analysis addresses the larger context of the neighborhood and the change that the area is undergoing, which itself is a microcosm of New York City's economic and demographic transformation.

Street redesign projects involve government, communities, property owners, and other stakeholders collectively reimagining and reinventing existing streets to reflect the needs of a local community. In this case, the public sector together with a community based organization is responsible for achieving the goals of lively, safe, sustainable and healthy urban street.

Community engagement is crucial to the success of street revitalization projects, and should be ongoing throughout the process. At the same time, street redesign should redefine the boundaries between private and public spaces, while encouraging flexibility and multi-purpose uses. Innovative design and community needs are not necessarily mutually exclusive and can be created simultaneously with a strong vision and ambitious leadership.

Don C. Faulkner, Professor, Dept of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, North Dakota State University. Death of Public. Trade-offs in Defining Public Space

We are experiencing an assault on our understanding of public space. To me, public space is publicly owned, controlled by our public agencies and accessible to all of the public most of the time. Throughout the world our definition of public space is being challenged and changed. What is that change and do we fight it or seek a new understanding of what the world now thinks is public?

In this paper I will explore our changing definition by looking at three challenges to our understanding of public space.

  1. J.B. Jackson defined the “front yard” as a national space or national institution, at least in the United States. The front yard has always been where we represent ourselves to the public. Change is being forced on that front yard by our increasingly important focus on sustainability such as xeriscaping which tends to reflect highly personal and divergent design ideas not an adherence to a public norm.
  2. Zoning requirements that mandate the development of public space but instead allow and encourage faux public spaces such as those that now dominate San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood with the creation of privately owned public space controlled and maintained by the developer. Developers have been awarded increases in building size for providing “public space” that is neither public nor accessible.
  3. Author Neal Stephenson describes burb-claves (sub-urban enclaves) as autonomous, secure developments providing all necessities for its inhabitants. Many of the developments in Dubai and other “new” cities meet this definition without publicly owned or controlled space. These giant, mixed-use developments ignore public space and the city as a whole. What qualities in these developments substitute for our traditional definition of public space?

The paper will explore positive and negative aspects of each of these challenges seeking an understanding of how we can define public space in today’s world. As a part of the paper presentation I would like to engage the conference participants in developing a new understanding of our definition of public space for the next millennium.

G.

Jessica Garner, Senior Community Health Planner, San Mateo County Health System. Tools and techniques to increase active transportation in San Mateo County

San Mateo County residents are walking, biking, and using public transportation more than 10 years ago. However, San Mateo County has high walking and biking collision rates, across many cities, near schools, and along the main arterial corridor through the peninsula. 2,362 people died or were injured while walking or biking in San Mateo County between 2009 and 2013.

  • 39% of all pedestrian and bike collisions occur within a quarter mile of a school countywide.
  • 1 in 3 of pedestrian and bicycle deaths are among our Black population, although they are only 3% of San Mateo County’s population.
  • 76% of youth and elderly, people of color, low income populations and those with disabilities lack access to high frequency public transportation within a half mile walking distance.

An environment that supports active transportation should be safe and offer people convenient choices for walking & biking, and for taking public transit. Such environments also offer a number of positive health impacts, including, preventing chronic diseases, improving environmental quality, reducing vehicle-related injuries and deaths and facilitating independence and access for disadvantaged groups. During this session, San Mateo County Health System staff will share tools and strategies being used to educate and encourage communities improve safety, access and opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to walk, ride a bicycle, and use transit such as collision data, Safe Routes to School equity research and implementation plan, transit accessibility maps, safety and active transportation assessments and Vision Zero resolution and policies.

Javier Gonzales, Mayor, City of Santa Fe, Ken Hughes, Clean Energy Specialist, State of New Mexico, & Matthew O’Reilly, PE, Asset Manager, City of Santa Fe, & Thomas Leatherwood, Consultant, Thomas Leatherwood & Associates. Public Space in Santa Fe, Past, Present and Future

Join Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales and others in a discussion about the past, present, and future of Santa Fe’s public spaces: the centuries-old Plaza, the revitalized Railyard district, and the newly rezoned St. Michaels Drive area. The panel will discuss recent projects, from starting a community New Year’s Eve celebration to adding picnic benches during the summer, that has breathed new life into the Plaza while maintaining its ability to host daily interactions as well as many special events, including the annual fiesta celebration, the oldest continually celebrated community event in the United States.

Many years of planning, financing and revitalizing the Railyard area has paid off with a handsome addition to the city’s public space. The area’s sights and sounds, including six daily visits by the Railrunner commuter train that slices through the property, will be showcased during the session.

The promise of more public space to come will round out the session with a look at the overlay zone adopted in 2016 for a three-mile stretch of St. Michaels Drive. The zoning incentivizes a long term, major transformation of a retail based seven lane highway into a scintillating mix of dense housing, local serving retail, and a diverse mix of transportation options that start with the pedestrian.

George Gretsas, City Manager, The City of Homestead. Andrew and the Phoenix: The Rebirth of a Downtown

In 1992, the City of Homestead, Florida took a direct hit from one of the most destructive hurricanes in the history of the United States. Hurricane Andrew, with wind speeds of up to 165 mph, brought Homestead to its knees, destroying entire blocks of homes and leaving thousands homeless. It's historic downtown, already a victim of suburban sprawl and regional shopping malls, was thought to have breathed its last breath on the day Andrew struck. And while a quarter of century has passed since that tragic day, new hope has emerged for a downtown renaissance. Community leaders are on an aggressive mission to restore its once charming downtown, utilizing the same building blocks to success that made its historic downtown a once thriving center for community and democratic dialogue. Public citizenry also share a vision of downtown reliant on government infrastructure to create an area more livable and visually engaging, and built upon the premise of resilience, sustainability, and civic engagement.

The City's downtown revitalization plan, currently in full swing, includes moving its civic buildings to the downtown, restoring its historic theater, bringing back arts and entertainment, creating interactive squares and plazas, inventing and constructing a twenty second century library, and creating a rapid transit hub.

With over $100 million in public and private projects currently underway, this is the story of how one community having suffered devastating losses came together to restore its history and to build its future.

H.

Vaike Haas, Assistant Professor, West Virginia University & Blake Belanger, Associate Professor, Kansas State University. Framing the Future of Linnahall, Tallinn, Estonia

Constructed for the 1980 Olympics, the Soviet-era Town Hall (Linnahall) with its iconic rooftop plaza in Tallinn, Estonia occupies a prominent position on the center city waterfront, but fails to serve as an effective public space for either Tallinn residents or tourists. Facing social, economic, environmental, and regulatory obstacles, public-private partnership plans for the site were stymied. Temporary uses as a concert and ice-skating hall have been abandoned. The question of Linnahall’s future was succinctly articulated by Estonian World in May 2016 by an article titled, “What would you do with a giant Soviet-era 'mothership' in Tallinn?” In this paper we identify dilemmas and opportunities for the future of Linnahall: a complex, contested, and crumbling waterfront public space.

Through first-hand site investigation, urban systems analysis, archival review of historical documents, case study analysis, and sea level rise modeling, we find both tremendous possibilities for Linnahall’s future and many obstacles. The site is burdened by a contested history and need for significant revitalization. Furthermore, sea level rise in the next century will leave about one third of the structure underwater during major storm surges, calling into question the validity of either historic preservation or renovation of this decaying Soviet monument. Key opportunities are the site’s tremendous views and infrastructural connectivity: to the Port of Tallinn, Old Town, and a planned “Cultural Kilometer” multi-user pathway. Framing the Future of Linnahall begins a legacy effort aimed at improving public space on the Tallinn waterfront.

Tahera Hasan, Director, Imkaan Welfare Organisation. KHEL

Khel is the urdu word for play. Play as a mechanism of learning, of growth, of personality development, a vehicle of change and transformation. Play for integration of different ethic communities and play in a space which has not even the basic facilities and necessities in the environment.

The largest Katchi Abadi, i.e. informal settlement in the most densely populated city in Pakistan. A city that is made up of migrants from all over the country and outside of Pakistan who in the hope of a better future have come to the city and made it home.

An environment that has no basic facilities and amenities and a family having an average of 8 to 10 children in small suffocated spaces where they live. Children are working in the nearby located fisheries and shrimp peeling factories contributing to family income and the many mouths to feed. The ones that are not working come sunrise are found roaming the garbage laden streets and fall prey with the passage of time to anti -social activities including gambling and drugs.

A recreation centre in an old dilapidated shrimp factory set up with the intention of getting children off the streets into a safe environment, an environment that teaches love, care and tolerance. There is also an integration of the different ethnicities that live there.

The journey from the inception to date, the hurdles, challenges and the growth that has taken place within the four walls of the centre and the progression of the same as a space for community recreation and interaction.

Hiro Hata, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, a Joint-Appointment, School of Architecture & Planning, University at Buffalo. From Rail-to-Trail as a Social Infrastructure: A Vision for the DL&W Greenway, Buffalo, NY; A New Post-Industrial Landscape

This paper argues benefits of a rail-to-trail movement as a new form of public places for community and democratic dialogue. Using a case study methodology, it presents a few of recent best cases of this typology to articulate principles replicable. Following this chapter, I will use my own recent project for a conceptual master plan for a rail-to-trail to demonstrate benefits of such undertaking would far surpass cost of transformation (see below). Such transformation of historic Post-Industrial Landscapes in this former rust-belt city is perfectly relevant as it is a rich storehouse of large industrial infrastructure. It is also perfectly timely, as the city has recently begun the economic revitalization after decades of decline with shrinking population. The urban revival is also triggering a new demand for living-in-downtown-lifestyle and more health-conscious-lifestyle for walking and appreciation for preserving the historic but neglected industrial landscapes once shaped the city and its people. However, the city is still a long way to go for improving the public realm to a network of connected, hospitable, and sustainable public places rich in texture and human-scale. This is where I will weigh in…………….

In summary, the intent of this paper is to demonstrate the claim I laid at the beginning. Using the project: A Master Plan for DL&W Greenway for Buffalo, the presentation will show highlights of the project including case studies, analyses, the master plan, and justifications for conservation and adaptive-reuse of the historic landscapes. It would be worthy for the-city-on-rise.

I.

Cristina Imbroglini, Department of Architecture and Design, Sapienza University in Rome, ITALY. Landscape devices for healthy lifestyles in metropolitan areas: the Piers project

Our research group has been working for long time on landscape projects aimed at making cities more livable by introducing adequate physical activity in the citizens' daily lives. Encouraging daily physical activities cannot be accomplished only through warnings, we need spaces that really facilitate the movement and support healthy lifestyles.

We are working both on metropolitan strategies and on local devices creating a large number of connection spaces (called piers) between urban settlements, metro and train stations, to establish local and daily connections between residences and services without using the car, encouraging walking and cycling.

Piers are meant to re-activate and regenerate open spaces - many publicly owned - unused or underutilized, marginal and unsafe that characterize urbanized contemporary territories.

The Piers are not reducible to linear paths, but to a constellation of spaces and equipments, real landscape infrastructures, which allow sustainable and secure transfers, enhance the ecological role of open spaces, let them host new activities, green economies, urban-rural linkages, support social inclusion.

Among different declinations of the piers, the so called playground piers, are conceived as urban sport devices: low budget, sustainable, repeatable and flexible measurements, dedicated to games, sports, and athletes of all ages.

Piers project began with the first experimental project in Corviale suburb (west Rome) a neighborhood known for its social housing building one kilometer long. Corviale piers is the prototype that we are improving and replicating in other parts of Rome and that we are going to test in other metropolitan areas.

J.

Elyana Javaheri, Landscape Architect I, Glavé & Holmes Architecture. Improvisational Landscape: One Step Closer to Inclusive & Democratic Public Spaces

Immigration has continuously been an evident part of the human history, and to this day, it is an ongoing challenge for those who are displaced, as well as their new cities. In the case of immigrants and refugees, the time of adjustments and adaptation heightens the absence of sense of belonging, questioning of identity, and potential increase in social injustice. However, landscape architecture, through participatory and inclusive design, improvisational elements, and mindful design decisions can help. The paper that I present shares the findings of a landscape research and design project, through which it is proven that improvisational landscape could be a successful way of creating places that is not only democratic in the process, but also adding to the sense of belonging to individuals involved, and consequently building inclusive communities.

Using improvisational components, such as movable thresholds, interchangeable boundaries, removable paving patterns and shapes, within a relatively concrete boundary allows for creativity of use and an imagination of possibilities. The notion of acceptance and addition increases the sense of belonging, opportunity to express individual identity and share with the others, through creative thinking and engagement of place making, contributes to the sense of place, sense of belonging, and identity. Furthermore, improvisation allows, or rather encourages exploration, investigation, additions, and finally adaptations, which elaborates a new community of inclusion. This becomes especially important for a displaced/marginalized group of individuals. The process forms the society and the built environment, which in return shape the people building it in the first place.

K.

Ann E. Komara, Professor and Department Chair, Landscape Architecture & Urban Design, University of Colorado Denver, College of Architecture & Planning. Larimer Square: Design, Heritage and Livability

In 2015 Larimer Square celebrated its fiftieth anniversary as the first historic district in Denver, Colorado. Dana Crawford’s successful preservation of this block of Larimer Street also became a lynchpin for surrounding downtown redevelopment. The redesign strove to make this block the most active ‘people place’ in the city while supporting major retail and restaurant uses, without harming the historic character. Today Larimer Square is a vibrant shopping and entertainment destination serving campus, residential, and office buildings as well as out of town visitors. According to urban theorist Kevin Lynch, the viability of an urban space can be considered against six “universal” criteria: vitality, fit, control, access, sense and equity. These factors inform a critique of this urban street and help explain how Larimer Square contributes to Denver’s livability.

However, this also allows us to point out contemporary capitalist agendas which may arbitrate opportunities for random interactions and deeper connection to place, thus subtly influencing someone’s perception of livability. Sharon Zukin, a noted sociologist, has studied and written about “shopping streets”. She notes that such local streets form intangible cultural heritage – they “… mobilize aesthetics, collective memory, and traditional forms of social interaction to create feelings of local identity and belonging which are endangered by economic modernization and global consumer culture.” The history, redesign and retail goals for Larimer Square provide a context for examining the degree of control and management that underpins the cultural heritage and social values expressed in this urban setting.

L.

Anne-Marie Lubenau, Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation, and Robert Shibley, Dean, School of Architecture, University at Buffalo. Creating Excellent Urban Places: Learning from the Rudy Bruner Award

How do we create excellent urban places that foster social interaction and democratic dialogue, promote public health, and increase equity? The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) was created as a method of inquiry to explore “the subtle and difficult process of creating excellence in the urban environment”.

The RBA does this by seeking out, celebrating, and sharing the stories of transformative urban places that contribute to the design of the public realm and the economic, environmental, and social vitality of American cities. The evaluation process solicits input and perspectives from a variety of sources via the in-depth application, site visits, interviews with project participants and community members, and discussions with a jury of urban experts. Findings and lessons learned from the process are documented with detailed case studies that are published online as a resource for educators, practitioners, and students.

Since 1987 the RBA has recognized and documented 78 projects from across the contiguous United States that illustrate a remarkable diversity of approaches to urban development. The winners are located in small towns and large cities and range in scale and scope from a $150,000 series of neighborhood art installations to a $2 billion downtown mixed-use development. Each cycle of the biennial award uncovers new projects that reveal innovative tactics as well as affirm recurring themes.

This paper will discuss the value of the RBA as a tool for critical evaluation and the themes that have emerged from 30 years of investigation into the complexity of urban placemaking.

M.

Juliana Maantay, Professor of Urban Environmental Geography, Director of GISc Program, City University of New York, Lehman College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Brownfields to Greenfields-Linking Environment and Health: Derelict Lands, Deprivation, and Health Inequality in Glasgow and NYC

The population of Glasgow, Scotland has very poor health, compared to Scotland as a whole and the rest of the U.K., and even compared to other post-industrial cities with similar levels of deprivation and unemployment. Glasgow also has an extremely high proportion of vacant and derelict land, much of which was formerly used for heavy industry and therefore likely contaminated. This study examines the association between this aspect of the built environment, namely, the concentration of vacant and derelict land (VDL), and the prevalence of adverse health outcomes. Our analyses found a spatial correspondence between the locations of VDL in Glasgow and several physical and mental health outcomes, and this is also correlated to socio-economic characteristics, demonstrating environmental injustice and health inequities. Using geospatial analytical methods, we found that many deprived communities are disproportionately burdened with environmental impacts, adverse health outcomes, and psychosocial stressors associated with this land use. Areas with higher VDL densities tend to exhibit higher rates of respiratory disease, cancers, low birth weight infants, mental health disorders, and lower male life expectancy. This study also compares the results of the Glasgow analysis with the impacts of vacant land on health and environmental justice in NYC. Potential strategies are outlined for re-using derelict land for the communities’ public health benefit and neighbourhood regeneration, including urban agriculture/community gardens, urban forestation, active and passive recreation areas, and linkage to existing open space networks and natural areas. Prevention of urban environmental (or “green”) gentrification is also discussed in the re-use strategies.

Nabeela Malik, student/planner, London School of Economics, U.K. The Tempelhof Revisited: Spaces of Crisis Driven Urbanism

The Tempelhof, once home to a Nazi-era airport and US military base, now hosts Berlin’s largest public park and sits at the heart of the city’s refugee crisis. Over a matter of months in 2015, Berlin received 80,000 registered refugees with more than 500 asylum seekers arriving per day in November. The majority of these refugees purposefully sought to settle in the city to tap into the existing infrastructure and social space. The growing trend of urban refugees presents political and social implications that can challenge any city’s capacity and function.

This rapid trajectory in the case of Berlin exhibits a multidimensional crisis, concentrated in many ways at the Tempelhof which has controversially remained the largest emergency shelter in the city since September 2015. The same spatial qualities that make the site an easy fix for the crisis, also create barriers to integration into the city, referred to as the urbanization of refugees. This paper therefore seeks to argue that the Tempelhof struggles to facilitate this integration process because it remains a product of crisis driven urbanization. That is, the space is constantly used as an ad hoc solution in the city’s crisis management efforts, imposing a state of exception on an inherently complex landmark, with a vast mix of political, economic, and social influences and interests. This study offers a unique case to understand the dynamics of crisis management, public space, and social integration in an urban context.

Michelle Martin, Associate, International WELL Building Institute. Beyond green buildings: Designing for human health

In the United States, people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, meaning that the buildings in which they live, work, and play are powerful determinants of their health (1). The World Health Organization attributes 23% of all global deaths to environmental factors, including housing, noise, water, and air pollution (2). Addressing these factors through interventions that meaningfully affect environmental risks has the potential to improve global public health.

While there are many green building standards that promote environmentally-sustainable design and building practices, the focus on human health in building design, construction, and operation is limited. The WELL Building Standard (WELL) fills this industry void. Overseen by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), WELL codifies scientific, medical, and industry research and best practices into design, policy, and performance interventions that focus exclusively on human health and wellbeing. In addition to prescriptive requirements for air, water, lighting, and acoustic performance, WELL integrates strategies that foster a sense of ownership and place for building occupants. WELL requires a collaborative design process, the administration of post-occupancy surveys, and the celebration of culture, spirit, and art in the design of spaces.

The IWBI is currently developing a program for certifying communities, shifting the focus beyond the four walls of a single building and into the public realm at the district scale. Building communities that are both healthy and socially-sustainable requires addressing key factors at the intersection of built, natural, and social environments.

Sources:
1. Klepeis, Neil E., William C. Nelson, Wayne R. Ott, John P. Robinson, Andy M. Tsang, Paul Switzer, Joseph V. Behar, Stephen C. Hern, and William H. Engelmann. "The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants." Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 11.3 (2001): 231-52. Web.
2. Prüss-Üstün , Annette, J. Wolf, C. Corvalán, R. Bos, and M. Neira. Preventing disease through healthy environments: A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks. Rep. World Health Organization, 2016. Web.

Patrick Martin, Senior Transportation Planner, Collaborative Partner - Art Spaces of the Wabash Valley, Inc. Turn to the River: - A Community Reconnects

The goal of “Turn to the River – A Community Reconnects” is to reconnect Terre Haute’s downtown with the Wabash River and reactivate underutilized public space through public art and design. Art Spaces Wabash Valley Outdoor Sculpture Collection has engaged artists and designers that are working internationally in the public realm to consult and engage the entire community for this unprecedented initiative. A National Endowment for the Arts, Our Town Grant, resulting in a 212-page Turn to the River Plan, multiple public engagement meetings, and a public design symposium have laid the groundwork for implementation to begin. Turn to the River is a transformative multi-year project. The focus in 2017 will be on design implementation for the civic plaza between Terre Haute City Hall and the Vigo County Courthouse to include public art and to capture elements of local multi-cultural history. An environmentally designed walking promenade will offer pedestrians an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful way back to the Wabash River along same path of the nation’s first federally funded road, The Historic National Road, a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road.

Brian Mayes, City Councillor, City of Winnipeg. “It is a useless life that is not consecrated to any great ideal”: Public Spaces celebrating Dr. José Rizal

While Filipinos remain among the largest group of Asian newcomers to North America, their histories and cultures have tended to be invisible to broader society. However, in recent years many cities have taken steps to recognize the contributions of this community, in particular creating public spaces named for Dr. José Rizal, a 19th century national hero of the Philippine independence movement. These spaces have helped to foster social integration of the Filipino community, granting to these immigrants the opportunity to see their national hero on an equal footing with such other figures as Dr. Sun Yat Sen from China. Among cities recognizing Dr. José Rizal are Chicago, which has a José Rizal centre, and has named an honourary Dr. José Rizal Way.

Filipinos have been migrating to Canada since the 1880s and Winnipeg, Manitoba, is home to Canada’s oldest and largest per-capita Filipino Canadian community. In Winnipeg, Tagalog is the second most-common language. Winnipeg has created a large park named in honour of Dr. José Rizal and in 2014 a large monument was dedicated in the park in his honour. Additionally, a major roadway has been named and a statue is to be erected. Since the 1990s commemorative acts, such as street and park renamings from Toronto to Winnipeg to Vancouver and beyond, have enabled Filipinos to become more prominent in Canada’s multicultural mosaic, and to showcase their nation’s heroes.

Peter W. Murphy AICP, Urban designer, City of Québec, Canada. From Pocket Parks to Complete Streets: Creating an Integrated Network of Public Places in Quebec City for Sustainable Health

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only walled city north of Mexico, Quebec City is known for its rich history which often overshadows contemporary public place planning and design projects adapted to the city’s unique geography, climate and neighbourhoods.

One of the most notable efforts in that regard is a unique planning and design tool currently under development integrating over forty planning, environmental, social and technical indicators which have an influence on urban form. This data base helps urban designers, architects, planners, engineers and city officials target those projects which would have the greatest benefits on the quality of life of city residents and public health.

The tool is designed to be

  • Accessible for all user groups
  • Flexible so as to permit the integration of a multitude of pertinent indicators
  • Visual so as to facilitate communications between professionals, decision-makers and the public, and
  • Easily upgraded, so that the most recent information or additional indicators can be integrated into the data base.

The first part of that tool, inspired by principles of the Complete Streets approach and adapted from Ian McHarg’s concept of ecological planning and design, is the result of an inter-service, trans-disciplinary approach and serves as a reference to optimize the decision-making process.

Through over-lays of pertinent indicators (ArcGIS), opportunities for improving the streetscape and adjacent public spaces are mapped and evaluated according to their impacts on

  • Creating active, animated streets and public places
  • Increasing tree cover
  • Facilitating active transportation throughout the year, but especially in winter, and
  • Improving public health, especially in economically and socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The second part of the tool is a decision-making tree to prioritize those components of the streetscape which should be included in the design to meet the sustainable health objectives. These components include

  • Target user groups (pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users, etc.)
  • Built form
  • Street typology
  • Tree planting / conservation / environmental strategy.

The application of this data-based approach in numerous projects has already been shown to improve efficiency of the design and approvals processes, can be applied to existing as well as planned developments, and contributes to a better understanding of how each intervention can contribute to the creation of a fully integrated network of public streets and places.

P.

Norma Pena, Professor, University of Puerto Rico. Children’s mobility and playability: planning with children equitable spaces

Urban and transportation planning are based on the idea that providing a system for able-bodied adults is equivalent to addressing the well-being of all, including children. The underlying premise is that adults are the guardians of children, who are deemed dependable and vulnerable. The assumption is that a city that is convenient for adults will also be beneficial for children. However, the idea behind a childhood-oriented paradigm shift for planning is just the opposite: providing for the needs of children also provides for the basic needs of society, including the elderly. Recognizing the need for children to intrinsically read, build, play and move in a city, this paper highlights how a car-centered society has socially excluded children, and other populations; it has impoverished their mobility

This paper applies a methodology to examine the right that the youngest citizens have to the city and how it meets their scale and needs for exploration and discovery. It also manifests children’s potential to innovate spaces and their mobility by exposing the perspective of children living in a marginalized community in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It portrays their view of what friendly and happy spaces should look like, and delineates policy strategies re-imagined by children by actively integrating their voices into the planning process of their neighborhood. Lastly, this paper also proposes strategies to establish more inclusive and equitable participatory practices to promote children’s mobility and playability as something crucial to their development and sense of belonging, as well as a stronger sense of citizenship.

Frank Pendrell, Student, University of Colorado Denver. Health and The Built Environment: an interdisciplinary exploration at the University of Colorado Denver

When considering what makes a place livable, it is important to consider that our modern cities are intended to serve as a fully functioning habitat for human beings. It ultimately falls to the design professions to cumulatively create our built environment, so why then are these professions so poorly integrated? In Academia is it often common to treat Architects as fine artists, Landscape Architects as horticulturalists and Urban Planners as political science majors. Students in these departments rarely interact throughout the learning and designing processes. At the University of Colorado we have maintained a central College of Architecture and Planning which continues to house the design professions in one building. Together, with the Colorado Health Foundation, The university has launched an effort to create an interdisciplinary design studio focused on Health and the Built Environment.

We are currently running our first of three iterations of this studio (spring 2017) and it is our hope and intention that students will receive valuable real-world experience that enables them to better tackle issues of health through design via increased understanding and collaboration between disciplines. Students will be working with the Colorado Housing Authority on a real world project, addressing a current master plan for a low income neighborhood through a health lens, and plan to develop and apply a health-based tool kit, which could serve other students and professionals in applying a health focus to their design projects. It is our intention to encourage students to develop skills that allow them to take design from planning to implementation, so when they enter the professional world they are contributing to the livability of what ever city they end up in.

Rick Phillips, Principal, Rick Phillips, RA, AICP. The Stations are the City – Leveraging BART and High Speed Rail to generate San José’s Next Great Places

At the heart of Silicon Valley, San José is the largest city in Northern California’s Bay Area. Already a crossroads of passenger rail transportation, the city is about to receive two transformative urban interventions: the arrival of California High Speed Rail and the extension to San José by BART, the region’s backbone rapid transit system.

Anticipating the advent of BART and High Speed Rail, planning for the expansion of Downtown’s historic Diridon Station has been underway for well over a decade. The City has a lot at stake: Diridon is poised to anchor Northern California’s preeminent opportunity for transit oriented development, a new 21st Century downtown district and San José’s next great place.

Each of San José’s three BART stations offer unique placemaking opportunities. Within a walkable mile east of Diridon, BART’s Downtown Station anchors the core of Downtown’s emerging vision of “24/7” livability. East of Downtown, and a world apart, is suburban Alum Rock Station: here, the public has articulated a vision of a new transit-centered community reflecting the values and traditions of the district’s Portuguese founders.

Drawing on current work by the author and others on planning and urban design of San José’s High Speed Rail and BART stations, this paper explores and reveals the evolving vision for each station area. Each station’s vision is a unique expression of a common objective: to leverage BART’s and High Speed Rail’s energies to inspire, catalyze, and sustain a connected realm of inspired urban places.

R.

Nancy K Rivenburgh, Professor, Dept of Communication, University of Washington. Inspiring People: Employing Creative Catalysts for More Livable Cities

Researchers know a lot about the conditions that promote creative thinking in individuals or groups. I call these conditions creative catalysts. For example, when we are exposed to variation, uncommon associations, nature, art, elements of play or surprise, it activates our brains in ways that excite, engage and inspire. These outcomes also describe how we want people to experience their city: excited, engaged and inspired. This paper translates what we know about the cognitive science of creativity to argue that creative catalysts should be an intentional part of city (or neighborhood) design, programs and policies in order to increase a city’s livability. To illustrate, this paper draws on examples from around the world to show how different types of creative catalysts can be woven into city life.

Stephanie L Rouse, Associate Planner, AICP, City of Anoka, MN. A Return to the Town Square

The town square used to be an integral part of societies throughout the world. Once a permanent settlement was created, a public meeting space was designated, resulting in town squares throughout the public landscape that can still be seen in many cities today. The town square was a place to gather and celebrate, discuss, conduct business, and pass the time. They were multifunctional, surrounded by businesses and had park-like amenities. People could stop and listen or keep walking; they were not confined to a meeting room to participate in government proceedings.

Today, the town square has been moved indoors into stuffy city hall rooms with meetings held on a rigid time table each month. The town square if it has survived is nothing more than a beautifully landscaped dead space. A trend to recreate these spaces has begun. A look into three case studies ranging from historical, reworked, and brand new—the Santa Fe Rail Yard, New Mexico, Times Square, New York City, and Rittenhouse Square, Pennsylvania—provide examples for how other cities can revive the town square to better serve their residents. The successful projects have four traits: connectivity, activation, accessibility, and multiple functions.

With the knowledge of where we have been and where we are now we can look to the future. Where need to establish an inventory of what we have to begin to fill the void of missing spaces and rework the broken spaces. Doing so will help reengage citizens and discussions that stopped long ago.

S.

David Helburn Sachs, Professor, Kansas State University. People of the Passeggiata

The word passeggiata describes a leisurely evening walk taken by residents of many Italian cities. I was intrigued by how this phenomenon unfolded in Orvieto through the Fall of 2016, when I was assigned to teach in my university’s Italian studies program. I spent most evenings between 4PM and sunset wandering up and down the Corso Cavour, between the city opera house on the east and the Piazza Republica on the west, taking photographs of what I saw.

As I observed and recorded the daily ritual, I came to understand its importance to the life of the city and the lives of many of its people.

Those who walked in the passeggiata achieved their daily exercise, and along the way had the opportunity to stop and talk to friends and neighbors. Those who chose to sit and watch the flow of walkers had their own rituals they often gathered in predictable places and visited with the same groups of people every evening. Some even brought their own folding chairs. Shopkeepers and food venders along the route stood in their doorways and exchanged pleasantries with the walkers.

Participants included people of a wide variety of ages and interests. There were many families with children. The children learned about community norms and customs by observing the behavior of their elders and adults kept a watchful eye on the youngsters. Adults also cared for the elderly, bringing them out in wheelchairs to enjoy the fellowship of their peers.

In Orvieto local residents share their passeggiata with the many tourists who come to see a unique and charming Umbrian hill town. The visitors bring a cosmopolitan air to the festivities and they leave with both a sense of the city and its people. If they are lucky enough to come on a festa day whey will also gain a privileged view of local customs and cuisine.

On any day, visitors to Orvieto’s passeggiata will have had an opportunity to feel the soul of the city. They can witness the people of Orvieto building and renewing bonds of family and friendship. They can observe how the children of Orvieto learn what it means to be part of the commune, or collection of people whose identity is shared with their neighbors. They have a chance to experience what it means to be part of a comforting and supportive community where people truly care for and about one-another. In today’s rapidly changing cities, this is a profoundly valuable commodity. It is an experience I have tried to capture, and hope to share.

Solange Serquis, ASLA - IFLA – CAAP, Serquis + Associates Landscape Architecture. Acequia Trail Underpass – The Link. Santa Fe, NM.

Site and context investigation: A confluence of traffic and history. Bordered by an historic functioning irrigation ditch on the north, New Mexico School for the Deaf, the busy intersection on the south, and the Rail line on the east. Became highly visible and considered as the gateway into the downtown area. It is also a hub for protesting or special announcements. However, narrow medians, awkward crossings, and poorly defined safety zones make this dangerous for large groups. Safety was a big factor to the community at large, especially the School for the Deaf. Students, pedestrians, and bicyclist must nervously navigating a dangerous designated crossing or eight lanes of traffic. Continuous circulation and minimal lingering drove the programmatic language.

The purpose of the project is to create an efficient, safe, and more direct connection to trail networks. The view that an underpass (tunnel) are places for crime, drug use and frequented only by trouble-seeking teens is a thing of the past; influence the context. In line with the incredible impact of trails, that is demonstrated along that they inspire movement and create countless opportunities and time making it possible for people of all ages and abilities to safely get where they need to go—without relying on automobiles.

Ilya Shmulenson, Director of Programs, Keep Austin Beautiful. Instilling Community Pride of Place Through Service Learning

One-time service learning projects are great photo opportunities and can inspire short-term feelings of accomplishments and sense of place from volunteers. But what if those volunteers kept coming back to a site week after week? What if the community saw that a continuous effort was underway to improve their local parks, greenbelts, or community gardens? We know what happens, they pitch in. Volunteers from around Austin and local residents start to come together to impact physical change in their beloved green spaces.

More importantly, they come together to develop a pride of place and community centered on the outdoors.

Keep Austin Beautiful works with local communities to identify areas of need which a geographical region of the city. It then commits to organize projects in a given local for three months. After three months, a new geographical area is chosen with a new focal project. But the work continues. Through the momentum built up from three months of service projects, the community begins to step in and take over the space. We started by working on a local park, as a result of our efforts the creek in the park has a “Grow Zone” established around it, the neighborhood association has committed to cleanups throughout the year, the residents from neighboring apartments buildings, students of nearby schools, and business people living and working around the park are committed to coming back to help the park.

Learning in the outdoors is not only about the natural world. It is about connecting the human world as well.

Ole Sleipness, Assistant Professor, Utah State University. & David Evans, Utah State University, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Design Engagement as a Catalyst for Promoting Democratic Dialogue around Shared Values: Applications for Western Gateway Communities

How can design engagement promote democratic dialogue around shared values?

Gateway communities, towns that are directly adjacent to large holdings of public lands in the western U.S., are well documented for their cultural divisions. Long-term residents, whose livelihoods often depend on traditional agriculture and natural resource-extractive industries, and new residents—urban in-migrants drawn to the area by natural amenities—often hold competing cultural, economic, and political values. Tensions rooted in these value disparities frequently result in competing identities of place, manifested in the natural and built environment. While multiple senses of place—imbued by diverse individual and collective experiences—should be expected when multiple groups inhabit the same physical space, these groups often share a common affection of their community, even when expressed differently.

This study explores how university-based design engagement can bridge the cultural divide between long-time residents and recently transplanted in-migrants in the gateway community of Kanab, Utah. Utilizing a multi-day charrette format, vertically integrated design teams are tasked with mediating the competing interests of various constituencies, in order to generate scenarios for cultural integration. Evaluation of the process, interactions, and products of the charrette provides insights for community partners, design professionals, and academic design programs—particularly those who strive to bridge community-based cultural divisions through participatory design and outreach activities. Additionally, impacts of vertical integration on collaboration are discussed in the context of educating the next generation of emerging design professionals that are better equipped to facilitate democratic dialogues.

Felia Srinaga, Dr. MAUD, Researcher and Senior Lecturer, School of Design, University Of Pelita Harapan, INDONESIA. Increasing Quality of Civic Place through Enhanced Square and Street Connectivity (Case Study: Fatahillah Square, Jakarta)

Jakarta’s public space has been developing much within the past five years. There have been many procurements, revitalisations, constructions and functional changes of public space, including: the developments of “Integrated Public Space” in residential areas and city center alike, “Child-friendly Integrated Public Space”, city parks, and pedestrian area. As an addition to public facilities and streetscape, various kinds of urban public space infrastructures are made, such as: squares/plazas, parks and pedestrian space. These are designed to be more public-friendly, catering the needs of the young, old, children, and even disabled alike.

There are several foci in solving Jakarta’s public and civic place problems, such as: ease of access, public transportation connectivity, pedestrian area, limited parking area, exclusive public space etc. One case is the revitalisation of Fatahillah Square in Jakarta old town. As the oldest civic square, Fatahillah is developing as Jakarta itself grows older. It is developing in a sense that what used to be a civic and government center is now an urban space used as recreational and socialising facility by the residents.

Fatahillah Square and its surrounding places have become a historical site that shapes Jakarta’s identity as a city. There have been many additions to their civic and commercial buildings such as commercial stores, museums, restaurants, and so forth. In an effort to improve the quality and convenience of the urban space there, new pedestrian spaces and streetscapes have been added within Fatahillah Square and its access points. Nonetheless, some common problems are still encountered. These include the limited parking space available, inconvenient accesses in some parts of the Square, poor management of the street vendors, and unsustainable connectivity between the Square and its surrounding areas. The purpose of this study is to formulate some important principles in order to improve Fatahillah Square’s quality as a historic civic place with its historic buildings and as a facility that can be enjoyed by Jakartans in general.

Keywords: Quality of Civic Place, Square, Street, Connectivity, Old Town Area

T.

Scott I Truex, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning/President, Sustainable Communities Institute, Ball State University/Sustainable Communities Institute. Urban Agriculture as a Catalyst for Place-Based Community Development

Food is one of the most powerful placemakers in communities. People will gather in spaces that are often underwhelming sometimes referred to as “dives”. The food over powers the place, this power integrated with placemaking can be transformational.

SCI believe food is one of the most important ecosystems in a community along with water and energy. All of these systems must thrive to create a truly resilient community, critical for a sustainable future.

Food can be the most powerful economic force for revitalizing communities as it can provide jobs, improve health and rebuild community connections. We work with underserved communities where food deserts flourish, areas of blight are prominent, and brownfields leave gaping holes in the urban fabric.

Through urban agriculture we can seed a new beginning for these communities and in the process design livable communities that can celebrate the diversity of the culture reflected in these forgot parts of our city. It is not only growing food, but also the value adding associated with food, that expands the economic opportunities. Food trucks, corner cafes, and farmer’s markets are all tools we can use to localize the economy and create unique culturally rich places that bring vibrancy back and create true urban revitalization through an integrated food system that empowers residents in the process.

We will share projects that have been developed with the residents to begin this transformation in Indianapolis and Baltimore.

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Charles Ware, Principal, Urban Designer, Landscape Architect. Evolving Roles for Nigeria’s Urban Public Realm: A Tale of Two Cities

As in much of Africa, public space in Nigeria has historically been dedicated to sustenance roles, aimed most basically at commerce, transit, informal housing and even refuse. This session examines the growing interest in a more aspiring role for public space and landscape, aimed at improving social and environmental health.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Issues: Understand public realm issues in Nigeria—security, privatization, urban land pressures and political repression.
  2. Collaboration: Learn how architects and landscape architects are working collaboratively in Nigeria to shape and expand the role of the public realm.
  3. Role: See how two very different African cities are working to overcome quality of life deficiencies with improved public realm.
  4. Innovation: Understand the challenges of integrating green technologies and landscape infrastructure which have little national precedent.

Case Study One: Eko Atlantic – Lagos, Nigeria. Block One Public Realm Design: Goal Summary

  • First use of green infrastructure to reduce flooding and improve water quality;
  • First use of an integrated public realm dedicated to recreation and community engagement;
  • First multi-block use of landscape as an integrated art form, uniting ground- and podium-level canvases (as future blocks materialize);
  • Potential reduction in infrastructure life cycle cost, water and energy consumption.

Case Study Two: Jigna Recreation Open Space – Abuja, Nigeria. Concept Master Plan: Goal Summary

  • Inclusiveness: Establish a destination for all community (demographic) groups.
  • Environmental Health: Restore and upgrade the ecological health of the site.
  • Scenic and Cultural Resources: Define, protect and integrate cultural, archaeological and scenic resources.
  • Maximize Assets: Define what has value and nurture its role in the development.

David Woltering, Community Development Director, City of San Bruno, CA. Integrating High Technology Knowledge Work Environments into Communities through Purposeful Design

As many technology firms have experienced significant success and growth in recent times, their directors have expanded facilities to accommodate needed new employees and supporting infrastructure independent of the wider community within which they are located. While these representatives and their design professionals are attempting to create "knowledge" work environments that maximize the time their respective workforce members are together and related opportunities for creative and innovative interactions, the result can be a large single land-use area not integrated with the wider community. This single use approach and lack of wider community integration can result in a number of negative impacts, including increased traffic congestion and a lack of adequate local, affordable housing. And, at many of these insular and single-use work locations, employees needs from food service to grocery purchases to dry cleaning services and beyond are being provided on-site by the employer. The fundamental design of these work environments and the approach to providing for the needs of the employees inhibits the integration of these work environments with the wider community within which they are located.

The City of San Bruno on the San Francisco Peninsula is working with representatives of YouTube, a very successful and rapidly growing video and social media firm, to address that firm's expansion needs. The firm has acquired nearly 1 million square feet of existing office space near its leased headquarters building in San Bruno and desires to intensify by more than tripling the square footage in the same land area within a campus environment over the next twenty years. The current employment population is approximately 2,000 and is expected to triple over the twenty years.

The paper will discuss the research of other communities dealing with this issue and present lessons learned as well as San Bruno's efforts and achievements to address YouTube's expansion objectives while integrating this employment center into the community and, at the same time, attempting to address traffic congestion and housing impacts.

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Ishtiaque Zahir Titas, Director, Architect, & Iqbal Habib, Managing Director, Vitti Sthapati Brindo Ltd. Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh. Reviving Dhaka's Dissipated Soul: Integrated Water Urbanism in Hatirjheel Area

Keywords: Water bodies, Wetland restoration, Integrated development, Social integration.

Rivers and Canals have been nourishing the soil and soul of Bangladesh since ancient times. Historically, the central location of the capital city Dhaka with its widespread interconnected water ways, used to be the primary mode of transport and lifeline to this city’s prosperous business passage. Miserably, these water bodies are diminishing very rapidly in a very populous mega city, Dhaka, as a consequence of unplanned urbanization and illegal encroachment. This ceaseless environmental degradation is divulging an immense threat to the urban environment and life of the city and city dwellers.

The Integrated Urban Development project of Hatirjheel area including Begunbari Canal is an endeavor to revive the waterfront legacy of Dhaka city. The primary concern of the project was wetland restoration to safeguard a large part of Dhaka from flash floods. However, the design challenges deliberately transformed it into a comprehensive urban renewal project to address the following design issues: citywide enhanced accessibility, water retention during monsoon, waste water management, drainage, restoration of nature and environment, revitalizing the grey urban backyard, re-establishing heritage, equity and social integration and restoring human rights by resettlement. The project converted the 300 acres of Hatirjheel wetland area into a lake district within a network of 11 km of water and Road ways through the inclusion of recreational and civic facilities for social integration. The project successfully embraced the unity and the power of a shared water body as an identity of a city.

Adriana A Zuniga-Teran, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer, University of Arizona. Neighborhood design, physical activity, and wellbeing: Applying the Walkability Model

Neighborhood design affects lifestyle physical activity, and ultimately human wellbeing. There are, however, a limited number of studies that examine neighborhood design types. In this research, we examine four types of neighborhood designs: traditional development, suburban development, enclosed community, and cluster housing development, and assess their level of walkability and their effects on physical activity and wellbeing. We examine significant associations through a questionnaire (n = 486) distributed in Tucson, Arizona using the Walkability Model. Among the tested neighborhood design types, traditional development showed significant associations and the highest value for walkability, as well as for each of the two types of walking (recreation and transportation) representing physical activity. Suburban development showed significant associations and the highest mean values for mental health and wellbeing. Cluster housing showed significant associations and the highest mean value for social interactions with neighbors and for perceived safety from crime. Enclosed community did not obtain the highest means for any wellbeing benefit. The Walkability Model proved useful in identifying the walkability categories associated with physical activity and perceived crime. The model also revealed that the experience category was strongly and inversely associated with perceived crime. This study provides empirical evidence of the importance of including vegetation, particularly trees, throughout neighborhoods in order to increase physical activity and wellbeing. Likewise, the results suggest that regular maintenance is an important strategy to improve mental health and overall wellbeing in cities.

Poster Presenters

Jessica Fernandez, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP, Instructor & Landscape Architect, Clemson University. Evaluating Landscape Character through Parametrical Indicators: A Case Study of the Campus-Community Edge

What gives an outdoor public space character? There is a broad range of literature on perceptions and usage of public spaces. Yet the majority of this literature focuses on the internal structure of physical components needed to create landscape and urban character, the space as it is socially constructed, or the combination of both of these approaches. A landscape assessment framework created by Ode, Tveit and Fry (2008) describes that many of the assessment characteristics commonly applied on a large scale in the science of landscape ecology can be useful in the evaluation of outdoor spaces at the site level as well. The framework is based on well-established theories in landscape preference and environmental psychology, yet is employed through entirely quantitative means by introducing parametrical indicators such as Simpson’s diversity index, heterogeneity, edge density, aggregation index, shape index, and autocorrelation indices.

The purpose of this study is to apply the Ode et al. framework within the context of public space at a university campus edge, where campus meets downtown. The study encompasses the evaluation of each side of this edge including campus and community, as well as the combined entirety of the site. This exploratory research aims to provide a foundation for analytic site assessment using modern landscape metric software as well as field observation methods. Results might inform a more critical way to identify desirable landscape character within a site, either prior to construction or as it occurs in the realm of existing public space.

Ana Kovacs-Gyori, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Salzburg, AUSTRIA. Twitter as a tool for investigating livability in public places

There are well-established, traditional ways of studying public life. These methods mostly rely on empirical, in-situ analyses, ranging from field observations to more qualitative aspects such as questionnaires. Depending on the purpose and the chosen type of analysis it might be time- and resource-consuming but still offers only a limited overview of the given public place. However, with the widespread of big data and social media, many new possibilities with novel aspects in this field became available.

Social media such as Twitter has been used for urban planning related topics among others in academic research with remarkable findings. In our analysis, we intend to further investigate the possibilities offered by social media in livability analysis; whether it can be competitive with traditional methods, or even reveal new findings about less obvious underlying phenomena and connections.

This study was performed using geolocated tweets from London, 2012. Firstly, we defined what is a public place for our purposes. Then, we separated tweets into two groups based on whether they were posted from one of these public places or not.

Applying various clustering and geospatial methods we intend to perform our investigation from two aspects namely similarity in people (spatial behavior, language) and similarity in public places. Combining this information with additional data sets and more detailed analyses we can reveal accessibility and functionality issues, which are significant to promote social life and improve livability in cities.

Zorana Matić, Ph.D. Student & Graduate Researcher, Georgia Institute of Technology. The need for health-informed decision making: Tools for integrating health in urban design

The growing interest in the link between built environment and health as a result of epidemic proportions of non-communicable diseases making them the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. is bringing urban design and health agendas come back together after almost a century. The renewed relationship opens discussion among professionals on how health can be incorporated in plans and policies. The health-promoting urban design is emerging as a central topic in planning our environments as we move from clinical care to social determinants of health model. How can we measure the impact of proposed project and what are the criteria to label one as more health-informed than other? A number of tools were designed and a variety of metrics were defined so far - rating scales with criteria and indicators, checklists, but there is no consensus on the best way to measure the health impacts of a proposed intervention. Those practices share key principles and more commonalities than differences. This paper will first provide the overview of the most frequently used tools (most notably HIA and LEED-ND) and look closely at the key topics and metrics employed and through content analysis highlight the advantages of each of the tools as well as identify the areas for improvement. This article argues the need for context-relevant and valuable metrics jointly developed by the health and design professionals, transparency of process and a stronger link to evidence, and transforming the process so it is not perceived as a burdensome requirement.

Devon McAslan, Doctoral Candidate, University of Michigan. Planning for Pedestrians: A case study of the Seattle urban core and the use of its streets

Seattle is the eighth most walkable city in the US. How the city uses its street space – 27% of land in the city – has become a central planning issue. In 2013, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) created a Public Space Management Program. This new work group oversees a number of programs aimed at supplementing SDOT’s transportation mandates and using city streets for functions other than cars. These include both fixed and temporary projects such as play streets, alley activation projects, street festivals, street art, block parties, parklets and streateries, and pavement to parks projects. The city has also had a complete streets program since 2007 aimed at designing streets for pedestrians, bicycles, transit riders, and persons of all abilities (as well as cars). The urban core of Seattle – a 3.7 square mile area encompassing the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods – is a highly walkable and compact area.

In this paper, I examine the SDOT Public Space Management Programs and the City’s complete streets projects and explore how they have contributed to the pedestrian environment and walkability of the urban core. The theory of urban fabrics argues that every city is a combination of pedestrian, transit and automobile urban fabrics and that these fabrics each need to planned in ways that protect and enhance each ones unique quality. I use this theory as a lens to examine current practice and discuss whether the SDOT programs go far enough to contribute to and enhance these pedestrian oriented and walkable neighborhoods.

Tatiana Alvares Sanches, PhD Student, University of Southampton, U.K. Spatial and temporal variation in the urban soundscape and its relationship with urban form: a case study from Southampton, UK

Urban noise results from a complex combination of sounds from many sources, is shaped by urban form and land-use. Urbanisation, increase in population density and associated daily activities, are leading to noisier urban environments. In Europe, c.40% of the population is exposed to noise levels >55 dB(A) (WHO limit) and >125 million people suffer from road noise that affects their health. Noise can lead to annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, reduced cognitive performance, hearing damage, hypertension, stroke, increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.

Despite this, few studies have been undertaken that capture noise from all sources at street level where people are affected. We therefore conducted a survey of the entire city of Southampton, UK during summer 2016, to analyse spatio-temporal variations in sound characteristics. Southampton has heavy traffic flows through residential areas going to the port. Countering this, it also has a high % of green space which could mitigate noise pollution, making it ideal as a study site.

By making continuous sound recordings using moving observers, we captured >50,000 calibrated and georeferenced sound clips across the full audible spectrum, a density of c.1000 recordings per km². Here, we analyse spatial variation in the city’s soundscape against urban morphology and land-use. Southampton shows strong spatial patterning in both frequency characteristics and volume of sound, leading to social inequity in noise exposure, often above acceptable levels. We therefore argue for better consideration of sound in urban planning to protect public health.

Yang Song, Ph.D. Student, Instructor, Clemson University. A glimpse of big data: how social media can inform urban design

The last few decades have seen an explosion in the phenomenon known as ‘big data.’ A product of social media, smart phones, sensors, and the internet, large quantities of data have never been more accessible or more powerful. Big data technologies have been widely adopted in a variety of industries including finance, marketing, energy, telecommunications, agriculture, and real estate to make more informed decisions and to be able to predict trends. Many publicly available websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Realtor provide a plethora of information such as behavior and perceptions associated with places and communities. However, few studies have been published in the fields of planning and the built environment to examine the efficacy of big data use and implementation.

This paper presents a case study using the social media website TripAdvisor to inform the concept development of an urban design project in Chicago, Illinois. By extracting, processing, and analyzing large amounts of geocoded information in TripAdvisor, the patterns of urban activities that were previously inaccessible to designers become accessible and useful. The study also displays how implementing the research of data in TripAdvisor supports a better understanding of the relationship between people and places, and advances the processes of urban transformation. As a response, landscape architects and urban planners might realize the potential of a big data approach, influencing the future of design and research related to the built environment.

Kanokwalee Suteethorn, Ph.D. Student, University of California Berkeley. Cultural Services of Urban Trees in Sacred Community Spaces

Similar to many urban metropolitans, the availabilities of accessible urban green spaces in Bangkok are limited. Many large trees in Bangkok are found on the grounds of Buddhist temples because they are unlikely to be disturbed there. Temples served as community centres, schools, health cares, and cultural venues for traditional and religious ceremonies. Buddhist temples are places for physical and spiritual meditation which also provide opportunities for those with less fortune in the society. Temple gardens are public green spaces with cultural and ecological services that support the social immune system of people in the city. Besides their environmental benefits, trees in temple gardens convey deep cultural values. Temple visitors adorn big old trees with color scarfs and flowers as a merit to spirits in the trees. With these liturgies, people believed it will protect them from bad spirit, and bring them prosperity. These cultural beliefs have been an important mechanical that environmentalist monks perform to preserved trees and community forests. However, urban development and the inconsistency in temple trees management have impacted the character of the landscapes and have affected the quality and quantity of urban forests in the temples.

I examined how urban trees on religious grounds and other sacred sites create public places and social networks. From Mount Auburn Cemetery, the 9/11 Survivor Tree at the World Trade Center, the Japanese Miracle Pine, to the Bodhi trees in temple gardens in Bangkok, the meanings that these trees convey have significant roles in creating public places for communities.

Philip Turner, Ph.D. Student, University of Southampton, U.K. A case study on how community-led festivals act as a mechanism of change for perceptions & behaviours in secondary high streets

City centre retail spaces are integral to the sustainability of cities, and within this hierarchy secondary high streets, which act as a hub for local communities, have become isolated with lowering levels of footfall and rising vacancies. This paper examines the role of a community-led arts festival in altering perceptions and behaviours of retailers and visitors in a declining secondary retail street, through a case study approach. The intervention (East Street Arts Festival, Southampton, UK) was undertaken in collaboration with retailers, community groups and the City Council and was investigated through in-depth interviews and surveys of stakeholders, observational studies and analysis of second-hand data. The findings highlight how small scale interventions, which create public places for communities, not only have a localised impact on the economic viability of a retail area but a more significant impact on perceptions and wellbeing. The results revealed how the festival altered traders’ perceptions of pedestrianisation, with many initially opposed to such a measure. The findings highlight the difficulty in undertaking interventions in the interest of retailers and communities, whereby many retailers’ value traditional static retail concepts such as parking and increased stores as opposed to active and spatial improvements favoured by visitors. This report reveals how small-scale temporary creation of public spaces for communities can improve knowledge and understanding, and assist in creating a shared vision among traders, visitors and city planners.