Old shopping centers, empty big box building and other adaptive reuse projects are being re-purposed as mixed use projects. The public spaces like these newly repurposed buildings could also gain a new focus as well. In the past, the public commons would have become passive space with benches for waiting, flower pots to add a mix of color and a couple of new trash cans to keep the space litter free. In today’s experience happy environment, our expectations about public spaces are changing. What does that look like from a walkable and experience oriented view point. Here are some thoughts to run through your mind.
Mobile device are now an important part of our daily lives and as a result, we can work from almost anywhere. So it seems logical that one should be able to charge their mobile phones, pda’s and computers in public spaces. Solar charging stations are an economical way to provide that type of connectivity.
These renovated public spaces will still need to have benches and other places to sit. But the seating should be more flexible and casual than the typical street bench found in most public spaces. A mix of seat wall benches for people watching, folding chairs for easy reconfiguration and relaxed Adirondack chairs and sunloungers for stress reduction could definitely increase lingering time.
In the experience environment, entertainment is paramount. So interactive games and experiences should be incorporated into the remodeled public space. Portable stage areas for entertainment, giant board game sets (checkers and chess) table tennis and foosball tables would be one angle to take. Stationary musical instruments are an inviting engagement tool for a diverse range of ages, musical skills and available time. Large scale interactive electronic games could be an additional option in the right environment.
In re-purposed public spaces, previously hidden bike racks belong at the nexus of all entry and exit points. Up-scaled bike parking locations with artistic bike racks will add a new dimension and an inviting element to cyclist using bikes as a standard form of transportation. A bike repair station and an air pump could also bring additional goodwill.
An experiential public space is a magnet for activities and engagement. Stay tuned for part 2.