Building our public welfare


Seamless Integration of Public Spaces

The concept of traditional “public spaces” like parks and squares is evolving due to the pandemic. In an article from “domus,” Fabrizio Prati, the Design Associate Director of NACTO, an organization shaping American street design guidelines, along with three architects, discuss the redesign of public spaces.

For instance, the traditional purpose of roads was primarily viewed as “getting from one destination to another.” However, the use of roads has transformed as biking and walking have taken on aspects like “exercise” and “urban exploration.” This shift makes it challenging to categorize roads as a one-dimensional space solely for “destination-oriented travel.”

Considering cities as a whole, concepts of space utilization have expanded, encompassing events like street concerts, parties, office spaces in cafes and parks, and more.

Distinguishing roads as spaces for movement and parks as spaces for relaxation might no longer hold significance. Public spaces are seamlessly integrating, and open spaces accessible to everyone are changing over time.

The pandemic revealed the utopian potential of public spaces. The challenge now is to transition this change from being temporary to being permanent.

The utopia of the appropriation of public space becomes pragmatic (domus)


Public Spaces Born from "Streets for Humans"

What if roads were redesigned not for cars but for people? This question gave rise to the event “Park(ing) Day” which started in San Francisco in 2005 and has since spread worldwide. On this day, people transform street parking spaces into small parks for play and art activities. The event, held annually on the third Friday of September, aims to place people at the forefront of urban planning.

The method is open-source and has evolved uniquely in various parts of the world. In Onaida, New York, a street parking space became a dog play area. In Brisbane, Australia, plants preferred by bees and butterflies were installed, highlighting biodiversity.

An event held in Atlanta, featured in this article, showcased a variety of uses, including spaces with tables for dining and large Jenga games.

Months before the event, cooperation from local residents was sought, and discussions about “how to grow the community” and “what role the event street should play” took place within the local community.

Creating public spaces democratically on managed roads can empower people living there.

“Park(ing) Day” is also held in Japan, so participating in the next event about a year from now could be interesting.

Spaces Enhancing Attachment to Cities

Park(ing) Day in Downtown celebrates people-focused public space (SaportaReport)

Spaces Enhancing Attachment to Cities

Sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki has created a pop-up installation in London’s Brown Hart Gardens. Known as “Sonic Bloom,” the installation features colorful horn-shaped voice tubes arranged to resemble blooming flowers. These voice tubes are interconnected, allowing people to communicate with others in a distant location through them, similar to a tin can telephone. Some of the horns are positioned upwards to capture the ambient sounds of the city.

Considering the connection between the city, people, and sound is intriguing. Apart from visual elements, the memories and attachment to a city can also be tied to its smells and sounds. Returning from a trip, sensing one’s own city through the five senses and feeling a sense of relief can be quite comforting.

The relationship between cities and people has changed significantly during the pandemic. As we move towards the end of the pandemic, let’s consider re-establishing the connection between people and cities in new ways and think about how to enhance attachment to cities through public spaces.

Yuri Suzuki designs Sonic Bloom to connect people with the sounds of London (dezeen)

What We Can Do to Build Sustainable Public Infrastructure

With the upcoming parliamentary elections and increased attention on environmental issues, the question arises: apart from casting a vote, what can an individual contribute to public climate change mitigation efforts?

In Islington, a neighborhood in North London, the community aims to provide opportunities for local residents to contribute to CO2 reduction and climate change mitigation through the issuance of green bonds tailored for individual investors.

The funds raised will be used for environmentally-conscious infrastructure development such as EV charging stations, solar panels for public facilities, and advancement in waste disposal and recycling technologies.

The concept of “Greenium” (Green + Premium) has emerged, indicating that green bonds tend to have lower borrowing costs (or issuer yields). More than a quarter of local councils in the UK are reportedly considering issuing their own green bonds.

Our ability to contribute to sustainable public spaces is gradually expanding.

How a London Neighborhood Is Getting Residents to Invest in Green Projects (Bloomberg CityLab)