Public Spaces and Urban Life

According to UN-Habitat, the key features that foster sustainable urban development are a vibrant street life, workability, and affordability.

A vibrant street life:
Vibrant street life can be promoted and supported by reducing the presence and role of private transport and increasing street width and enabling a variety of activities. It encourages people to walk or cycle around,

Walkability: Promoting walkability is key to bringing people into the public space. It also helps in reducing congestion and boosting the local economy and interactions. It also alleviates air pollution and resource depletion issues. Pedestrian life brings vibrancy to city life.

Affordability: Supporting affordability of economic activities and services by promoting proximity and reducing costs for a diverse group of users. An affordable city is the prime feature of a sustainable city. Public spaces determine the cultural, social, and economic functions of cities. They are the first indicators of the status of a place. The lack of resources and understanding to use public space as a complete and multi-functional urban system is often results in overlooking the value of public spaces.

Role and importance of Public Spaces


• Public Space-The banner of urban civility

People perform several activities in a public space that are shared with all. It is the space where people enjoy public recreational and cultural activities, meet others, or simply stroll. Quality public spaces contribute to civilized behavior which in turn can lead to quality public spaces. Public space is where the civility of the city is displayed thus making it the banner of urban civility.

• Public Spaces is our urban commons
The quality of a city’s public space is the indicator of shared prosperity. Therefore, public spaces deserve priority attention. Public spaces serve all residents, particularly the disadvantaged groups so they require attention and care. Public spaces belong to all residents therefore investment in public space increases the shared urban capital of people.

•Public Spaces for wealth creation.
Public space provides important benefits to all forms of businesses. Public spaces are where informal business can be carried out legitimately. It provides poorer urban dwellers with precious livelihood opportunities and informal trading can take place in public spaces.

•Public Spaces promote environmental sustainability
Green networks can be created in urban areas with well-planned public space to support environmental connectivity through zoos and parks and biodiversity. This will create numerous benefits for the citizens and attract visitors. Public spaces can play an extremely important role in the adaptation strategies to climate change.

• Public Space enhances transportation efficiency
By designing and managing transport modes and prioritizing routes for cycling and walking, public space help reduce congestion, road accidents, and travel time. Allowing people to move around freely on foot, bicycle, car, or public transport is one of the main functions of public space. Well-designed public spaces encourage walking and cycling and create a safe environment by reducing vehicle speeds and use.

• Public Spaces helps to improves public health
By providing opportunities for physical activity and play, public spaces make walking more attractive, help reduces stress, and provide a calming environment. Access to a well-maintained public space can help to improve physical and mental health by allowing them to walk more, play, and enjoy the environment. They are powerful weapons to fight against many forms of ill-health.

•Public Space enhances urban safety
A diverse public space provides a busy and vibrant place that reduces insecurity. Fear of crime; deter people from using public spaces. Children, women, and the elderly are often prevented from using parks and squares because of fear of crime and violence. Transformation and the better management of public space can help to allay these fears by attracting a large cross-section of people.

• Public Spaces promote equity and social inclusion
Public space helps people to engage and to stake a claim on the city. So a city is shaped by its population that will largely depend on if urban systems provide residents with equal development opportunities.

•Public Spaces: tools for age-friendly and gender cities
Public spaces and streets are excellent tools for achieving women-friendly cities. The streets and public spaces are more frequently used by women for a variety of purposes than men. Therefore it is important to provide them safe and secure streets and public spaces. Thus, a women-friendly city is one that with better services and safer public spaces.

•Public Spaces offer ideal opportunities to generate citizen involvement
Often, citizens mobilize over a public space they are interested to create or maintain. Therefore, public space has the power to build social capital.

•Public Spaces make for great cities
Cities can only become great when they mobilize to develop a great public space system. The great cities are not solely determined by their buildings but by how beautifully the public spaces have been planned and maintained.