Image above: Empty lots are converted into a park!; Ella Fitzgerald Park, Detroit ; source: Metropolis Magazine

Though the vaccines on the horizon, the pandemic very much continues to shape the way we are living our lives and now molding our cities, reevaluating our needs and wants .The pandemic has upended basic long-anchored assumptions in city making, and in particular, has made us question and rethink the relationship between private and public space and highlighting the critical role of public space for public health and for challenging the systemic inequities equity and rights to city.

Looking some links to lessons learnt and innovative public realm thoughts and interventions shared by the Knight Foundation in their recent publication “Adaptive Public Space, Places for people in the Pandemic and beyond”. To quote them:

Key findings include:

  • Spaces that reflected resident needs, historic character and the arts had more regular visits from residents. Residents spent more time in public spaces where community engagement was built in from the start, and those who visited more often were more attached to their communities. 
  • Community participation and responsive engagement is vital for equitable spaces. Prototyping and pilots designed to engage communities of color allowed space organizers to build trust and enthusiasm with Black residents.   
  • Prioritizing community engagement throughout the lifecycle of a space led to ripple effects in the wider community. Embedding resident engagement from design through governance led to wider local capacity-building and community development beyond the project site.
  • Flexible community-led design, inclusive processes and capacity-building helped sites develop sustainable operating models and adapt to changing conditions — including the pandemic. Community engagement enabled projects to pivot programming and  provide safe venues for solo and social activity during COVID-19.

The report also offered recommendations for optimizing public space design:

  • Create spaces with equity in mind. To address challenges around inclusion and trust among communities of color, planners should conduct outreach and fund community participation efforts from initial design to programming to governance.
  • Design spaces with the input of communities that are impacted. To manage residents’ concerns about displacement, public space investments should be integrated into broader community development processes, with buy-in from all parties.
  • Become financially sustainable. To create sustainable operating models, planners should create innovative and diversified means of funding, incorporating both foundation dollars and public revenue streams.”

Below is a related article by the Knight Foundation and the link to the report. Happy reading!

Link to access the REPORT: https://knightfoundation.org/reports/adaptive-public-space-places-for-people-in-the-pandemic-and-beyond/

Ella Fitzgerald Park, Detroit; source: Metropolis Magazine
Parking pays are converted into cafes, restaurants and community amenities! Moment, San Jose, CA; source: Internet

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