This page is a collection of public space images from Michigan planning graduate students.
Please upload an image (plus your name, image location, image source, and a short caption). Use the link icon to add links. For instructions, see see your class email -- archived on ctools -- for instructions on how to post.)
What makes a great (or alternately overrated, misunderstood or problematic) public space? There is a wide range of public spaces, of various sizes and uses, and of varying mixes of public and private use, ownership, control, access. I look forward to seeing a wide variety of images and places (and not just the predictable ones). Identify good public spaces in unusual locations, such as in low density suburbs or poor neighborhoods, or in reclaimed spaces.
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Click on images to see larger image size (high-res photos enabled: Photos without a click-through link will automatically link to a high-res version).
November 20, 2012
Namba Parks, Osaka, Japan
Namba Parks is a public open space in Osaka, Japan located on top of a shopping/office complex. I really thought that this was a novel idea in a very dense setting. In my experience visiting, it is a lively active public space.
From wikipedia: Namba Parks was conceived as a large park, a natural intervention in Osaka’s dense urban condition. Alongside a 30-story tower, the project features a lifestyle commercial center crowned with a rooftop park that crosses multiple blocks while gradually ascending eight levels. In addition to providing a highly visible green component in a city where nature is sparse, the sloping park connects to the street, making it easy for passers-by to enter its groves of trees, clusters of rocks, cliffs, lawn, streams, waterfalls, ponds and outdoor terraces. Beneath the park, a canyon carves a path through specialty retail, entertainment and dining venues.
Ascent to the Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain (Photo credit: Self)
Rather than the Park Güell itself, I’d choose to showcase the uniquely arduous ascent toward its east entrence. The park is decidedly monumental and, once inside, the tendency is to be focused not on your surroundings or those who surround you but, rather, on the various bits of Gaudian architectural excess spread throughout. This very structured, linear, unornamented and, above all, necessary ascent to the entrence, however, creates a unique kind of space in which strangers (primarily tourists) mingle with each other through their shared struggle to make it to the top of the damn thing. The aesthetic experience of the park is obviously more memorable than that provided by this surprisingly underdeveloped street, but the social experience created by strangers in solidarity, all trekking (or escalator-ing) up a massive hill is, I’d argue, superior to that achieved by the park itself.
La Plaza Mayor is the heart of Salamanca. The Plaza is a large open space carved out in the center of the city. The open space is surrounded by the civic entities, restaurants, bakeries, retailers, and residencies and is a destination for all major events. It is a popular meeting place for people at all hours of the day and is only accessible to pedestrians. Additionally, the streets leading to the Plaza are only for pedestrians.
This is a picture of Shin-yi district in Taipei, Taiwan, in front of Taipei 101. This was the new year’s eve in 2011. People are waiting for the new year eve’s firework show. The whole district was barricaded so only pedestrians can walk in it. There were pop music concerts and other celebrating events too. It could be the biggest public event of the year in Taipei.
Nathan Phillips Square is a public plaza in Toronto, Ontario located directly in front of City Hall. The Square sits atop a large underground parking garage, and features a large reflecting pool (which serves as a skating rink during the winter months), food kiosks, and various monuments. The square opened in 1965, along with City Hall - both were designed by modernist architect Vijo Revell. The square is currently undergoing a massive renovation, which is attempting to create a more forested atmosphere, in contrast to the bare concrete that currently exists.
“798 Art Zone is located in the Chaoyang District, northeast Beijing.
In its heyday 50 years ago it was hailed as one of the best factories in China, with up to 20,000 workers pumping out electronic hardware for military and civilian use. Joint Factory 798 went into terminal decline in the 1980s, and few people today have probably even heard of it. But it was the progenitor of 798 Art Zone, which has blossomed into a venue that enjoys worldwide fame.
Over the past 10 years the area has become so successful that it is often compared to SoHo in New York, a thriving creative neighborhood full of artists’ lofts and galleries.”
This image is of City Hall Plaza located in Government Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The Plaza is arguably one of the worst public spaces I’ve ever seen. As a product of urban renewal in the 1960s, the Plaza was created along with the equally terrible Brutalist style building, which houses Boston City Hall. The Plaza is essentially a desert of brick and concrete, which evokes no sense of place for the residents of Boston, yet it lies at the heart of the City. The surrounding buildings generally face away from the Plaza and there are no landscaped features in and around the Plaza. Located close by are the wonderful outdoor spaces of Boston’s North End and Faneuil Hall where you will see hundreds of people wandering around on any given summer day while City Hall Plaza remains entirely devoid of people.
This is a picture of Shida night market in Taipei, Taiwan. Located between two university campuses and two metro stations, Shida night market attracts local students and residence across the city. Stores and vendors sell cheap clothes, accessories, and delicious local and foreign cuisines. One thing interesting in this picture is that one can find both formal (convenient store) and informal (vendors) sitting right next to each other. These streets are normal residential area in the day time with few shops open during the day. At night, it turns into a place of joy.
This is an image of Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park in Austin Texas. I have never been here but found it interesting. It is fed by natural springs that keep the water at a consistent 68-70 degrees year round. I found it to be a good public location that is also sustainable as no manufactured energy is required for heating or cooling.It should be noted that while the park itself is public the pool does charge 1-3$ user fees which makes this site only quasi-public. Source: Austin Parks and Recreation
This is the Maria Reiche Park in Miraflores, Lima. The Municipality of Miraflores has invested a considerable amount of money to improve the parks along the seafront. There are several parks and one of them is known as the Dog Park. People not only from Miraflores, but also from other neighborhoods in the City of Lima, take their dogs to this park during the weekend. This has created an amazing public space for family. Also, since it is so closed to other parks with different “themes”, there are amenities for every preference.
In my hometown of State College, PA (a little town in the geographic center of Pennsylvania), the main street through town, Allen Street, is always closed to traffic during any major events or holidays. A recent survey of townies asked what their mental picture of State College was — the overwhelming majority said it was the closing of Allen Street, the opening of that territory to pedestrians and new programmatic uses, like Arts Fest and First Night.
The pyramid designed by IM Pei was constructed in 1989 to redesign the entrance of the Louvre. Moving visitors through the plaza and the pyramid distributes the huge crowds through the spacious lobby to the different parts of the museum. This model has been copied by other notable museums around the world.
In 1976, East Main Street in downtown Charlottesvilla, VA was transformed into a pedestrian mall under the design direction of landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin. Halprin had several decades of downtown revitalization experience with Minneapolis, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The 8 blocks are paved with brick, covered by a lush canopy of green, and well lit by street lights. There is amble cafe seating and room for weekend markets. At one end of the mall there is an outdoor concert venue, the Charlottesville Pavilion. It has led to the rehabilitation of two theaters and adaptive reuse of many historic main street buildings.