Public Spaces
BMH 01 - 18 - 2010

Walking through Barcelona, Spain, Avignon, France, and Monte Carlo the group analyzed the street section for its success in generating activity. These areas typically had one or two lanes of vehicular traffic, sometimes with a bike lane, bordered by a pedestrian walk-way with a generous amount of usable space in the middle. Furthermore, the public spaces utilized trees and shrubs to create a visual and physical separation between the automobile and the pedestrian. Finally, the surrounding buildings usually contained commercial or retail on the first floor and contained three to five stories of residential above with windows and balconies looking into the public space. With the critical mass of users in the surrounding spaces, markets, vendors, entertainers, and seating areas populate the public space and generate a lively crowd. While this seemed like a unique formula for generating activity, other spaces that seemed to provided all the amenities listed above, contained little to no activity. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day or maybe its proximity to another public space that limited its success. Either way, its evident that even a well designed space will not be successful without a blessing from its citizens - designers provide the framework for such activities to take place, seldom do designers have an opportunity to program the social context. Addressing the context of Lawrence, Indiana. The city's master plan calls for a central plaza square, with four streets circumscribing the space. A parcel is allocated for the slot, but additional programming might enhance the plaza's usability. For instance, deviating from the traditional grid might provide an opportunity for intermediate spaces such as parks and seating areas. Furthermore, introducing public transportation seems vital to public space. Whether this will take the form of a public rail line, a commuter car service, bike service, or bus station access to public amenities ensure convenient access to the site without the need for direct facility parking. Left Image: Street Section in Barcelona, Spain Right Image: Principles of public space applied to a pedestrian and vehicular corridor in my hometown project

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