AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

Improving shared spaces with a placemaking approach: Lessons from Adelaide

by Ethan Vincent Archer

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: placemaking; shared spaces; shared streets; Adelaide; public space; place activation; public realm
Record ID: 1306231
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5637


Shared spaces are streets where conventional traffic controls are removed. Typically featuring a level surface, their design attempts to calm traffic, allowing for better integration of pedestrians and cyclists alongside motorists. Shared spaces can improve urban settings by creating places for people, yet public discourse and much of the literature focusses on their effects on vehicle movement and pedestrian safety. Placemaking is a movement which seeks to improve underutilised public spaces in towns and cities into meaningful places which communities take pride in, where there is a sense of ownership and a sense of attachment. The aim of this thesis was to investigate how placemaking can improve the outcome of shared spaces in town and city centres. Reinstating a sense of place to improve the quality of the public realm has recently been endorsed by planners and urban designers in Adelaide, with the implementation of Adelaide City Council’s Placemaking Strategy. Therefore, the city provided an ideal case study to explore placemaking and its application to shared spaces. Data was acquired through a video survey and design checklist to evaluate the place function of four shared spaces. Despite a range of design features, high numbers of pedestrians and low numbers of motorists, there were few people spending time and partaking in activities in the street spaces. Issues with placemaking were identified through interviews with planning and urban design professionals involved with placemaking in Adelaide. Key challenges included defining the concept and understanding its motivations, and determining the role of government in the process. A placemaking approach involves a community being in a partnership with a local authority for the design and management of a shared space. Placemaking should continue after the construction of a shared space as a healthy and resilient community will contrive their sense of place in a shared space over time. Temporary projects like art installations or events can be very effective at empowering communities. New Zealand towns and cities with vehicle-dominant streets and unattractive public spaces which lack activity can benefit from these lessons. Strategic planning for placemaking, understanding that the process of placemaking, including finding funding, has a positive outcome for communities, and employing short-term place activation projects which reflect the context of the street will ensure effective shared spaces are created in New Zealand.