For many of us at Project for Public Spaces, one of the best parts of our work is learning from countless talented placemakers around the world. Everywhere we go, there is always someone experimenting with new ideas in public space and pushing against the status quo.
For nearly two decades, our user-generated Great Public Spaces database has served as an inspiration to these local placemakers and as a repository of their work, and this month, we added five stunning new entries that have a little something for everyone.
These great public spaces hail from Britain, Canada, Hungary, Russia, and the United States. They include streets, alleys, paths, parks and historic districts. Some of them tell the stories of lighter, quicker, cheaper transformations, others of massive infrastructure projects, and still others of gentle long-term cultivation. Read on for your regular shot of global placemaking inspiration!
This lighter, quicker, cheaper laneway transportation launched during our very first International Placemaking Week conference in 2016. Since then, its playful combination of bright colors, games and seating has become a staple of the downtown. Hopefully, Alley Oop will be the seed of a broader network of laneway public spaces. Read more.
A lack of lighting can make even the best pedestrian and cycling paths feel uncomfortable and even dangerous at night—especially in the dead of winter. While proper public infrastructure for such routes is critical, this problem can be solved on a lighter, quicker, cheaper, and more beautiful basis, as proven by the Electric Moon mural in Bristol, UK. Read more.
The next time an obstinate, well-meaning public servant insists that a wide road can’t go on a diet or that a highway couldn’t possibly become a boulevard, tell them about the Garden Ring. As part of Moscow’s My Street program, this ring road in the heart of the Russian capital was reduced from 18 lanes at its widest to no more than 10 lanes at any point. Even more striking is the improved pedestrian experience, including the creation 13 new public spaces, 20 new crosswalks, generous promenades throughout, and the planting of 2,880 new trees. Big change is possible. Read more.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Burns Court Historic District proves that small (and slow) is beautiful, too. Preservation and dedicated management have helped make this place shine, with its narrow, walking-friendly street and beautiful Mediterranean Revival homes. A mix of arts uses, restaurants, shops, and festivals attract tourists and locals alike. Read more.
As we often like to say, great public spaces are built upon a set of basics, and Hello Wood’s pop-up structures in Városháza Park show how simple activities like sitting, lying, talking, phone-charging, sun-bathing, and shade-seeking can be accommodated with artistry. These wavy, colorful benches stand out from a distance, and make what was once an underused space into one that feels safe, comfortable, and inviting. Read more.
Anyone can submit their own favorite public space to our Great Public Spaces database, and we want to hear about yours! To do so, simply visit the database homepage and click the “Nominate a Great Place” button.