Public places and spaces provide 'breathing space' for people. They help us connect with others and with our surroundings, offer respite from the pressures of daily life and are part of a holistic approach to wellbeing.
Public places play a role in the quality of our urban life, as they provide opportunities for people to:
- undertake numerous recreational activities
- enhance their everyday activities such as going from home to work or school.
- connect with nature, which is critical for health and wellbeing.
Our public places are where children play, people relax and meet others, and where we hold celebrations. They are an extension of living space, especially for people who have limited or no private outdoor space. They need to be well designed, inclusive and accessible to a wide range of people.
They help create our identity and define a sense of place by reflecting local communities, local character and local history.
Urban green spaces are key components of public space. They play a critical role in greening the city.
This is not only important for people’s health and wellbeing, but also for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For example, trees and green spaces have a role in carbon storage, help limit heat stress (urban heat island effect) and intercept stormwater.
As Auckland's population increases and lives in more compact urban environments, with less private space inside and out, our public places and spaces will become even more important to our wellbeing. This is particularly the case in areas of high growth, increased density and socio-economic need.
This has implications for the number, size and location of our public places. It is also an important reason why we need to think differently about what we consider to be a public place and how we conceive its use. We also need to think differently about how we design and deliver them.
They have to:
- support multiple uses
- be able to adapt and change in the future
- play dual roles in recreation and action on climate change
- reflect who we are as communities, Aucklanders and New Zealanders.
As Auckland grows and intensifies, space will be at an even higher premium.
Acquiring new public space is expensive. Auckland must therefore complement any new public places by getting more out of what we already have. Innovative and thoughtful design will be key ways of meeting this challenge.