By Craig Pocock
As a designer it is hard to admit that design is not always the best solution for a degraded public space. The process of design is rewarding both professionally and personally, as designers we like to be seen as the creative solution-provider, especially if it publishable or award winning work. “Brilliant designer saves a community with imaginative new rethink of an old tired space,” is always rewarding reading.
Selling design is also how most of us make a living. With every redesign there are fees to be made from the initial concept through to project management. Hence, it is hard not to want design to be the first solution for all “problem spaces”.
However, redesigning a space may not be the best or even the right solution every time. There may be cheaper, more effective and more environmentally-friendly options for most urban public spaces that are starting to look a little tired, under-utilised or experiencing anti-social behaviour.
That solution may be public space programming: organising events in a public space that encourages the community to use it. It requires an organisation – sometimes local government-lead, sometimes community-lead – to create and encourage a range of daily, weekly, monthly and annual events within that space, or in a series of connected spaces such as a downtown business district.