Well-designed public places and spaces are an integral part of urban living and offer respite from the pressures of daily life.
Public places and spaces include a wide range of land that is publicly owned, and potentially available for use by everyone:
- open space, sports fields and parks, ranging from small local parks to large regional parks
greenways and cycleways
- roads and footpaths
- squares, plazas and some land between buildings.
Given the cost of land, we will not be able to rely exclusively on acquiring new public places to meet the needs of a growing, and increasingly urbanised population.
It is therefore crucial that we:
- consider all publicly owned land as potential public space and able to contribute to greening the city
- use existing public places and spaces as effectively and efficiently as possible
- ensure our public places and spaces are accessible for people of all age groups and physical abilities.
The use of public places continues to evolve in ways that are difficult to predict. It is important that they are designed to be multi-functional in use, and adaptable in the future.
They also need to be welcoming to all, with inclusive design and architecture.
In our approach to urban placemaking, a number of concepts, such as 'life between buildings' and 'human scale', are helpful guides to achieving the results we need. Read more about this on the Auckland Design Manual website.
We also need to reflect our identity, such as Auckland's unique Māori cultural identity and local character or heritage, in our public places.
How this can be done
First, we need to shift our perception of what a public space ought to be.
Second, we need to adopt different approaches to the design of public places so they:
- can perform many functions at the same time, giving people flexibility in how they use them, and finding the right balance between the various functions of a space
- connect areas and residents to each other and to the amenities they value.
Auckland is already starting to recognise the value of turning its public places to new and multiple uses. This needs to be accelerated.
While some parts of Auckland are well served with quality public places and spaces, others are not.
Investment must therefore be specifically targeted at:
- those areas that undergo significant growth and where population densities are increasing
- those parts of Auckland that are currently under-served and where it will make the most difference to quality of life.
Our efforts could therefore focus on:
- restructuring streets and other public land into new public places and spaces that support housing intensification and centre development, and provide safe environments for the people who use them
- communities where real improvements in quality of life can be achieved, using place based initiatives. These combine investment in public spaces, service centres and community facilities to achieve broader social, cultural, environmental and economic outcomes.