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In praise of public spaces

This year’s virtual POLIS network (cities and regions for transport innovation) conference featured interesting sessions advocating the reallocation of space to promote active travel and create better, healthier places to live. Examples showed how COVID19 gives an opportunity for positive disruption which is allowing cities to rethink public space as we plan the return to normality.

City Wayfinding can go a long way to promote and highlight the importance of public places. Study the graphics below to see how public spaces are lovingly portrayed and promoted on well-known wayfinding maps:

Streets, avenues and boulevards - WalkNYC

Streets, avenues & boulevards – WalkNYC

Squares and plazas - Stockholm SL Wayfinding

Squares and plazas – Stockholm SL Wayfinding

Pavements - Legible London wayfinding

Pavements – Legible London wayfinding

Passages and galleries - Interconnect West Midlands wayfinding

Passages and galleries – Interconnect West Midlands wayfinding

Bicycle paths - Legible London wayfinding

Bicycle paths – Legible London wayfinding

Parks - WalkNYC wayfinding

Parks – WalkNYC wayfinding

Gardens - Toronto TO360 wayfinding

Gardens – Toronto TO360 wayfinding

Playgrounds - WalkNYC wayfinding

Playgrounds – WalkNYC wayfinding

Riverbanks and waterfronts - Stockholm SL wayfinding

Riverbanks and waterfronts – Stockholm SL wayfinding

Public libraries - Legible London wayfinding

Public libraries – Legible London wayfinding

Community centres - WalkNYC wayfinding

Community centres – WalkNYC wayfinding

These wayfinding maps, distributed strategically where walking route decisions are made, attract visitors and locals to quality public spaces by depicting them with a high level of detail, symbols, and place names.

In evaluating thousands of public spaces around the world, a UN Habitat Project found that successful public spaces have four key qualities:

  • they are accessible
  • people are engaged in activities
  • the space is comfortable and has a good image
  • it is a sociable place, one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit

What better than a good city wayfinding system to bring people together in these places?

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