An authentic and meaningful public realm is a prerequisite for a true place. The ideal public realm is defined by well designed landmarks, buildings, streets and spaces, and the sequences of interaction between them. The public realm encourages social interaction, creates economic value, and helps to organize everyday life. True communities cannot exist without this public realm.
Carve out spaces within each block while considering the different functions each space might accommodate.
These spaces should be designed to provide a sense of security and comfort to the user.
Consider the relationship between realms: private public/semi-public/ private realm.
Consider the elements that make up the experience of the public realm (spaces, landmarks, etc).
Consider foreground and background relationships and the spatial qualities each require.
Create pleasant pedestrian experience through use of mid-block passages – transect dependent.
Strive for meaningful axial relationships which engages the pedestrian to a greater whole.
Design unique spaces which add to the experience of each place.
Incorporate a meaningful water features to engage the pedestrian when possible.
Apply intentional micro design components (street furniture, water features, infrastructure) – consider regional methods and materials to create a sense of identity
Incorporate appropriate local vegetation into the landscape design (transect dependent)
Incorporate buildings based upon appropriate form, scale, and proportion to space, not use.
Encourage and design “Gifts to the street” as appropriate to each building and the spaces they define.
Public Realm Applications
The value of public green space is an often overlooked amenity. In dense urban conditions, a large yard is impractical so common greens become a necessity. These spaces help to can help foster community as well as provide a tranquil setting to relax in as well. The image above illustrates how these green spaces can have a high level of formality to them making them a beautiful vista for the passerby as well.
The integration of water has long been a favorite design tool when creating meaningful public spaces. They create beautiful public gathering areas as well as more intimate quite areas of reflection. The image above shows how a small public fountain creates a beautiful axial terminus for the street as well as a pleasant seating area for the pedestrian.
Public plazas play an integral part in public life. Although it is ideal when civic buildings front public plazas, smaller, less prominent plazas can still serve as public gathering areas at a neighborhood and block level. The image shown above is a small church plaza integrated seamlessly into the urban fabric of the community.