Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Question 1 Good Urban Places

In about 100 words, give an example of what you consider to be a well-planned urban area. This could be a local neighbourhood, a central business district, a small rural town – basically anywhere people gather together. Identify where it is, and why you think it works as a public space.


  1. The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a promenade that runs along the length of the New Plymouth waterfront. I consider it a successful urban place for a number of reasons.

    At a physical level, the walkway relates well to the city and creates an attractive, generously-scaled linkage between several widely-appealing city destinations that ensure it is both well used and inclusive. In doing so, it has helped popularise active, sustainable transport modes such as walking and cycling.

    The walkway is also a tourist attraction, with its appeal in my view lying in the way it visually links surf, city and the mountain beyond. The use of evocative public artwork makes the connection more coherent. This not only attracts tourists, but also celebrates the area and sets an aspirational tone.

  2. And for those that haven't been there/wondering what on earth I'm on about, pics...

  3. One of the more well known public spaces in New Zealand, and a personal faveourite, is the Cuba Street Mall in Wellington.

    The diverse range of shops successfully attracts and provides for a range of residents, allowing them to participate in a friendly environment. The street furniture, art urban vegetation and performers work together to create an exciting and vibrant setting. The "bucket fountain" is also a well known Wellington landmark found on Cuba Street.

    This space even expresses the four characteristics that contribute to a successful and diverse space, as described by Jane Jacobs in "The Life and Death of American Cities":
    > Mixed use (activating the open space throughout the day and night).
    > Short blocks (allowing pedestrian permeability).
    > Variety of building ages and types.
    > Density.

  4. Quality Street in Whangarei is a great example of how well planned urban public spaces, of any scale, can facilitate positive interactions and encourage social relationships. The small, pedestrian only street is shaped by historic two and three storey buildings that add to the character and amenity of the space. The street is lined by a variety of establishments including restaurants and bars and boutique shops that provide the space with exciting and vibrant activities. The alfresco dining that occurs in the space enables customers and pedestrians to positively communicate and interact with each other. While Quality Street is only a small part of Whangarei’s CBD, the public space contributes significantly to the overall amenity of the town and its growing ‘sense of place’.

    Kdur008, 1518944

  5. Pics:*H3Hkp4tThaUcWL92ENdz0A7pkvQP4I7FFvs0-fWFZDVU-rvtNH0M0-MIW4hfTEymYI*CKBz0dxikZcT/QualityStreet_photo1.jpg

    Or be brave, head past Te Hana and actually visit Whangarei to check it out, theres only a 40% chance of getting stabbed, some would say thats better odds then if you live in West Auckland...

  6. Cairns waterfront esplanade is a perfect example of a well-planned urban area. The esplanade, which stretches along the backdrop of Cairns’ waterfront, is lined with a variety of restaurants, cafes, bars, accommodation providers and shopping outlets to suit every desire, able to create an exciting and intimate atmosphere all in one. Across the road, a myriad of beautifully designed open spaces provide the perfect setting for people to gather, relax, explore and enjoy with a man-made lagoon, a skate park, children’s playground, barbeque areas and a board walk, to name a few, found there. Collectively this space works to provide an entertaining attraction for tourists, as well as being practical and inviting enough to keep local residents returning. This is one space that has firmly cemented its place within my memory bank.

    vmau007, 1559615

    Cairns Regional Council website has a virtual tour you can take of the esplanade: pretty snazzy I think

  7. Alisa (Evelyn) NealJuly 20, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    West Quay is a historic precinct located in the small suburb of Ahuriri, Napier. It is an example of successful planning and urban design, which has produced a unique and attractive public space.
    Interactions between the waterfront and the operating harbour produce a well integrated marine character. This is maintained throughout the area with historic cultural references including a ‘Waka Wharf’ and carvings, as well as a strong concentration of art deco through architectural heritage buildings. The waterfront maintains its open coastal environment nature while catering for mixed commercial, residential and recreational use particularly through a diverse range of shops and meeting points. The enhanced streetscape also provides for a user-friendly environment through public green spaces and a traffic slowing wharf-style Boulevard. The combination of West Quays streetscape and working wharf offers a unique, attractive and enjoyable experience.

  8. St Marks Square in Venice is a successful urban area and being one of the most famous squares in the world does not get its name easily.

    The square, which is at the focal point of Venice’s main water transportation route and many access ways, allows it to be accessible both to people on land and water. It is also coupled with the Bell Tower to attract tourists from afar. Once people are there they are able to enjoy live orchestral music, alfresco dinning, market stalls and painters, something that caters for everyone. Buildings surrounding the square are all human-scale with beautiful architecture including the St Marks Cathedral which encourages people to stay and immerse in the view. Overall it is a square buzzing with human voices and pigeons and not corrupted by the automobile.

    yliu397 1617432

  9. The container mall in Christchurch is an example of a well planned urban space.
    It is located in central Christchurch, next to the remaining red zone.

    There are a variety of locally owned shops and cafes in the brightly painted shipping containers which not only attract locals but also tourists. The containers are designed into different shapes; some are double storey and others single. They are carefully constructed around areas of open space which allows for relaxing and socialising with others.
    I believe it is a well planned urban space because it is a creative, innovative, engaging and memorable place which is attracting residents back to the central city, as well as helping to return some form of normality. It also provides a positive outlook for the future.

    Photos -

    gbro114 1617766

  10. Mission Bay in Kohimarama is situated along the waterfront and consists of residential, retail and recreational uses. It stretches along Tamaki drive and I consider mission bay a well-planned area for a number of reasons.

    First off Mission bay has a number of primary attractions that entice a large number of people to visit. It has:

    • nice white sandy beach
    • large grass area which can be used for a number of recreational uses

    I consider this the main primary attraction. The walkways bordering the beach are wide, which suits the large population that use it, there a public toilet facilities, barbeques and benches which overlook the beach and Rangitoto Island, making picnics attractive. The Primary attractions entice pedestrian flow which benefits the secondary attractions. The secondary attractions provide mutual support for one another, they make Mission Bay an attractive place during her day as well as night. These attractions include:

    • Cinema
    • Bars
    • Restaurants
    • Fast-food stores
    • Ice Cream Venues
    • Creative arts store
    • Variety of building types

    These are all located along the Tamaki drive, allowing easy pedestrian flow in and out of shops. The variety of building types, stores and uses allows a diversity of people to visit at varied times for varied reasons. It supports variety, which is an essential element of a well-planned urban area.

  11. The Queenstown waterfront is an example of a well-planned urban area. The uninterrupted view of Lake Wakatipu with the mountain ranges in the distance works to attract large volumes of people to the area, and in particular tourists. The wide boardwalk is well lit with ample seating, allowing for alfresco dining as a variety of restaurants and bars in historic buildings face onto the promenade, adding to the picturesque setting.

    A number of pedestrian walkways allow for permeability and ease of access to the main city streets, and with the Queenstown Gardens Scenic Reserve located along the waterfront, people are more inclined to walk or cycle.


    rkha062 1539665

  12. Lichfield Market Square is located at the heart of the Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England. The square is surrounded by heritage buildings, dating back to 1400ad, overlooked by the Lichfield Cathedral, a local and tourist attraction. The square is a hive of activity, with market stalls running the length of the street, encouraging social interaction and promoting the historic market economy of the area. The pedestrian square encourages walking and cycling within the center, while also acting as a point of legibility within the township, and encompassing human scale development, with active street frontages and apartment style living on the upper floors. The heritage, traditional market economy, social interaction and pedestrian friendly aspects of the Lichfield Market Square makes it an example of a well planned urban area that promotes diversity and permeability. (Photos and Information)

  13. Coogee Beach waterfront esplanade in Sydney, Australia is an example of a well-planned urban area for a number of reasons.

    The paved esplanade, which stretches along the length of Coogee Beach, separating it from Arden Street, is a highly popular gathering area in the summer and winter months. Large grass areas with picnic tables and barbeques for public use are a perfect place for people to congregate, play, and eat without setting foot on the sand. Gradual steps leading down onto the sandy beach provide a good transition between the built concrete area and the natural beach. Showering facilities are a great asset of the public space, as are the several pieces of public furniture from which people can admire the view.

    The diverse range of restaurants, bars, and accommodation, which are spread along Ardent Street, create a vibrant atmosphere, which complements the more relaxed mood of the beach. Buildings are to human scale, therefore not over powering the beachside environment.


    awoo112 1509343

  14. New Road is a shared space in Brighton, England, and what I consider to be a well-planned urban area.

    It runs adjacent to a number of attractions and destinations, including restaurants, apartments and a park, providing reason for people to travel to the place and to return again and again. This ensures that the space maintains a lively image and does not remain empty. Local Street Art works to create a sense of identity for the space while an array of activities enables the space to be used by all demographic groups, ensuring that no one group dominates the space.

    Amenities such as attractive waste receptacles, cleanliness, street lighting, bicycle racks, and both private and public seating options, provide the finishing touches to make New Road, a successful public space. (Photos)

  15. If you do over-come the fear of being stabbed, Whangarei’s Town Basin is the other area to check out.

    Magnets attracting people to the area include an assortment of ‘colonial’ styled cafes and restaurants, access to the river, park and playground (with BBQs!), and recent investment in a landscaped heritage trail leading to the performance theatre. A Hundertwasser museum is also planned for the area.

    It is a well-planned urban area because the variety of uses draws a range of people, and generates a vibrant environment to enjoy. It fosters encounters, utilises passive surveillance, and combines social, cultural, environmental, and economic elements in a way which brings life to the built space. With connections to the wider area and a safe haven from cars, this is one of Whangarei’s beauty spots.

    nkey003 1554216

  16. Pioneer Courthouse Square (also known as ‘Portland’s living room’) is at the centre of downtown Portland, Oregon in the United States. Its design involved the residents of Portland and is used to convey the city’s unique urban identity.

    This square works well as a public space as it is a catalyst for community engagement and social interaction, providing reasons for people to gather with provisions of amenities, public art, seating and a vibrant atmosphere that attracts a diversity of people. It is multifunctional and adaptable, hosting flower shows, concerts and markets. The pedestrian square is well-connected and located within walking distance of a range of shops including retail and cafes and restaurants as well as easy access to light rail.


    ihan007 1541300

  17. Ziteng (Jim) ZhanJuly 24, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    The Heart of Amsterdam in Netherland has the urban form of a Garden City and concentric arrangement permeable for pedestrian. The city encompasses a variety of mixed-use, including restaurants and cafés as commercial and retail buildings with multi residential units sitting above. This becomes a magnet that draws a variety of the public into the centre of Amsterdam due to the concentration of pedestrian flows through the streets of these compact stores.
    I believe this place is attractive for having a range of mobility which includes, bikes parked in alleyways, boats in the canal and private cars and motorcycles parked in between the canal and buildings and this provides a diversity of choice of travel for everyone.


  18. Lincoln Road Mall in Miami, Florida is an excellent example of good planning and urban design. The road once open to vehicular traffic, was turned into a pedestrian mall lined with restaurants, shops, art galleries, and a sister campus to the Florida International University.

    The mall serves as a great public space with ample seating, great landscaping to create a micro-climate, great walkability, and hosts many different events and festivals throughout the year. As a result of the various uses of the Lincoln Road Mall, there is a constant flow of tourists, locals, and students throughout day and night. There is also a variety of new and old building stock that allows for different businesses to locate in the mall, which helps bring unique stores to the mall.


  19. Jason van NiekerkJuly 25, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Wharf Road is a fairly short street located along the Bucklands Beach peninsula. While not designed as an attractor for people from outside the area, Wharf Road serves the local community well. Located along it is currently a dairy, a cafe (with outdoor seating), a takeaway shop, a small gym, a war memorial hall, a crèche, a real estate agency, dress maker and a Plunket car seat specialist. These different services draw in a range of locals who begin to interact with one another. It is also a convenient location to grab an ice cream or some fish and chips when visiting the beach.

    Wharf Road has recently been redeveloped which makes the street safer for pedestrians and more aesthetically pleasing. Knowing the history of the area, it can also be seen that the raising of the intersection of Wharf Road and The Parade during the redevelopment, ties the design of Wharf Road to its heritage where a wharf once ran out into the Tamaki Estuary at this location.

    Information on the redevelopment:

    Jvan177 1510475

  20. Bentley et al (1985) argue that well-planned urban places must be responsive. These are environments that enrich the opportunity of users because they are designed to be permeable, legible and robust, as well as providing variety and richness. Waihi’s main street is a great example of this. It has been planned to highlight Waihi’s historic heritage giving it a sense of place. The street design of lamp posts and shops directs attention to the historic mine building which acts as an important landmark for the town. The grid pattern of the blocks also allows easy access to the main street. Small statues of past mine workers and their families are present throughout and this public art not only adds visual interest but again reminds you of an area steeped in history.

    The street is very pedestrian-friendly with wide, covered, even footpaths and several raised pedestrian crossings. Perhaps the greatest test of a well-planned area is that it should contain people, and Waihi’s main street, with its variety of shops, high quality street appeal and tidy appearance is always full of life.

    Picture available at:

    mtre046 1612148

  21. The Cheong-gye-cheon stream in the heart of downtown Seoul in Korea is a great example of a well-planned urban space. I’m originally from Seoul and Cheong-gye-cheon is my favourite place in Seoul where I would like to introduce to everyone.
    The stream where sewage once flowed, has been beautifully restored a haven of natural beauty running through the middle of Seoul. The stream has amenities that attract people to visit. The stream has series of unique bridges and stepping stone pathways. Also the stream has a path on both sides decorated with art, statues, fountains or special themes for events. At night-time parts of the river light up and people can enjoy a laser show. Also there is a 4m high artificial waterfall. What I like about the stream most is that in summer people can play in the water. Cafes, restaurants and big shopping malls are well connected and located within 15 minutes of walking distance from the stream. Also it is easy access to public transportations including bus and subway.

    Picture available at:

  22. Redfern, a small, old neighbourhood south of Sydney’s central business district (CBD) is a great example of a well-planned urban area (that’s putting aside its rough image). Redfern is a vibrant neighbourhood which is always bustling with activity in and around the streets of Redfern (good or bad) all the same it helps to enhance its quirky character. With a variety of interesting restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping outlets to cater for many needs, and large open spaces it is a settlement which has many places to encourage interaction. And as a major link within sydney’s cityrail network it provides great accessibility via public transport for all its residents in and around central Sydney (which is mainly students as a Sydney of university campus is within walking distance of the train Station).

    cham063 1515604

  23. Nokia Plaza is a great example of a well-planned urban area. This one-acre public plaza located in the heart of L.A. LIVE and integrates the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Chinatown. It also serves as the link between the Staples Centre and the New LA Live Retail. It is capable to host special events, cultural festivals and live performances. The plaza is flexible enough to transform from a daytime market to an evening concert. It can close 11th Street/Chick Hearn Court during non-peak hours and connects STAPLES Center with L.A. LIVE. This provides a pedestrian-friendly campus, as well as a prime location for red carpet arrivals for events taking place at any of the venues. The plaza has great environmental sustainability as well, such as greywater irrigation, porous paving, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and natural outdoor cooling systems.

    Pictures available at:

    xwan290 1543816

  24. The Orewa town centre is an example of what I consider to be a well-planned urban area. With the through traffic between Auckland and Whangerei that used to dominate the main road was deviated to the new motorway, the focus has shifted from vehicular traffic to the more important aspects of a town centre. Narrower roads and wider footpaths has increased the dominance of the pedestrian which provides for a more safer and vibrant environment. Fluid connection between the retail environment with the natural (the beach and adjoining park) creates magnets and increases the variety of the location that increases pedestrian activity.

    Aaron Grey, agre147, 1549038

  25. Jackson Square is an attractive, well-planned urban space situated in the heart of French Quarter, New Orleans. It is a successful example which embraces social and cultural well-being.

    The square gathers a diverse range of people together through its strong sense of cultural and historic identity, and the variety of activities and attractions it offers. Within the vicinity of the square are many restaurants, shops, galleries, and other attractions. Historic architectural buildings such as the St. Louis Cathedral and the adjacent Presbytere and Cabildo (state museums) inherit significant heritage value which portrays New Orleans’ cross cultural French context. The square is also a famous gathering spot for local artists to draw and display their artworks, and is a place which holds annual festive events, attracting both local residents and tourists.

    Picture available at:

    zyan070, 1583674

  26. Sophie WilkinsonJuly 30, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Trafalgar Street located in Nelson in my opinion is a good example of human scale urban design that offers diverse opportunities and social interaction. The central location and the presence of the church (tourist attraction)as the backdrop of the street acts as an attractor generating pedestrian activity as well as providing legibility. The collective effect of having paved streets encourages pedestrian priority and the presence of large trees, colourful flower baskets and public art lining the street as well as the inclusion of heritage buildings all contributes to the overall enjoyment and ambience of the area. The inclusion of a wide variety of mixed use facilities including restaurants, cafes, bars and retail stores also adding to the interaction between both private and public space creating a more interesting and vibrant environment for both visitors and locals alike.

    pictures available:


  27. Rembrant Square (Rembrandtplein) is situated within the city of Amsterdam and serves as one of the city’s major squares.

    This square brings to the city an area of green which contrasts a fair amount with the expanses of brick and concrete seen elsewhere thus adding a certain appeal. The surrounding buildings add variety through the use of styles such as the historical Dutch baroque style which adds to the aesthetic appeal of the square. Being home to many cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants adds a mix of surrounding uses and creates a lively atmosphere both during the day and night which is facilitated by easy access due to the city’s gridiron layout, as well as being situated next to a public transport line servicing both trams and buses.

    Pictures available at:


  28. Rua XV de Novembro(15th November Street)in Curitiba, Brazil is a brilliant example of a well designed urban area. Transformed and opened in 1972 by the then mayor Jaime Lerner, it is one of the worlds first pedestrian malls that mitigates motor vehicle use. It is common to see street acts and artistic performances in the mall which sustainably interact with the passers by. Other facilities include a sunday market, a creche which allows children to create chalk drawings on the concrete and a massive range of cafes and large scale shops. Rua XV de Novembro is situated next to the sustainable public transport network that Curitiba possesses thus increasing public transport use and discouraging the use of the polluting private motor vehicle to an even higher level.

    Pictures available at:

  29. Lcla091

  30. The Square in Palmerston North is a great example of how open space can be designed in a manner that sets a design blueprint or standard for the rest of the city to follow. The area, containing ponds, trees and footpaths, an information centre and part of the City Council building itself is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also promotes environmental sustainability. As an part of NZ that considers itself proactive in encouraging alternative forms of transport such as cycling and walking, it is important that the Palmerston North city centre is able to accomodate this lifestyle. It has been designed to form part of the network with the rest of the city and creates a relaxed and friendly environment. As well as being part of a transport route, people will often go here to socialize, play sport, feed the ducks or have a rest.


  31. Vulcan Lane is a place i'm sure everyone will be familiar with and one that i think is a well designed urban space that has led as an influence to development of other similar spaces around the Auckland CBD. Being a pedestrian street, it enables the effective utilisation of space allowing the robust buildings and retail/restaurant and bar establishments on the street capitalize on the pedestrian traffic for increased business and also provides an attractive atmosphere for people to sit and relax. the buildings are not too high either side of the street and the adheres to an appropriate human scale. Vulcan lane links to the high street and chancery lane, which are also part of an area with an abundance of bars and retail stores. i think it a good space and seems to have influences some more pedestrian orientated developments near by with the redevelopment of fort street and elliot street into shared vehicle and pedestrian streets.

    Here is an IMage:


  32. The Rocks district in the Sydney CBD is a very well-planned urban area. The integration of restored heritage buildings with modern structures has created a dynamic suburb. Consequently this area has an intimate, small town feel but within the context of the amenities and opportunities of a CBD. This harbour-side location has streets lined with trees and is scattered with parks, gardens and pedestrian malls, all of which encourage activity and interaction. This is complimented by the low height and spacing of the buildings which give pedestrians a multitude of viewpoints. The Rocks embraces its location and position within the City and is successful because it is;
    -Diverse in both built-form and use
    -Accessible and connected
    -Attractive, exciting and unique


  33. Addison Circle in Texas (America), seems to define what a well-planned urban area really should be. The area is in walking distance to many shops and restaurants and has more than 170 restaurants. The town also have introduced a wireless Internet network that covers most of the town allowing people to have free internet in the town. In terms of Addison Circles architectural appearance, there is a wide range of building types in Addison Circle as the architectural styles and designs over each era of development has either changed or adapted to the different use of the area over time. Addison Circle hosts several community events and activities for all ages and therefore truly is a well-planned urban area.



  34. I consider Dam Square in Amsterdam to be a well-planned urban area. It is located in the historical centre of Amsterdam, approximately 750 metres south of the main transportation hub, Centraal Station. The square is continuously jostling with locals and tourists day and night, which create a vibrant atmosphere and an exciting place to be.
    The Square offers food stalls, restaurants and shops, including the Bijenkorf, Magna Plaza, Bonneterie and the Amsterdam Diamond centre. Whatever the weather, there is always something going on. I believe it is a well-planned urban area as the square has a great atmosphere for people, as well as all the amenities one needs in an open space.


  35. The Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood in Mississippi is an example of what I consider to be a well-designed neighbourhood. It impressed me when I did research for previous assignment because of its emphasis on natural environment and its planning and preservation.

    Emphasis on natural environment
    - First homebuilders plant water oaks along streets and rights-of-way and on private property;
    - Bay Street, designed as wide boulevard with double rows of watermelon-colored crape myrtles, restored in 1997; modified median is abundant with flowering trees;
    - Local Historic District Status 1986 prohibits homeowners from removing or altering trees without evaluation by city arborist and review by Historic Conservation Commission;
    - The 3.2-mile-long Gordon's Creek Linear Park, under development, will connect neighborhood to Leaf River, large city park, zoo, and Longleaf Trace, a 43-mile rails-to-trails project;
    - Walthall Grounds, site of school repurposed as condos, named state landmark; dedicated as permanent green space.

    Planning and preservation
    - Neighborhood's 450 structures sited across 23 blocks (115 acres); city's first neighborhood added to National Register of Historic Places 1980; slightly larger area receives Local Historic District Designation 1986;
    - More than 90 percent of houses substantially renovated or continuously maintained.

    Image is available at:

  36. One of the impressive public space that I clearly remembered is , the Ponsonby Rd at Ponsonby suburb just along the CBD area.
    I have only been in New Zealand for not long time, and I am making the analysis between the living environment of Ponsonby to the local suburb of where I came from, China.
    First, this public place give me an impressive feeling : the leisure place. I remember I was wondering at a small public open space when I had a 1 day trip there, no tall building surrounded that open area, those open space contains few young children that playing the sport game, two of them have their mother watching their playing happily.
    This scenario gives me a feeling that , the overall planning in this area, creates a peaceful living environment , and people do enjoy to spend their leisure time there, and this is very very good.
    I merely can find such peaceful , so environmentally friendly place to spend my leisure time in the town where I used to live at.
    This strong difference impress me a lot, I can sense the successful planning element inside of it: the small blocks of buildings, big variety of building types, good overall planning design.

    Haoran Guo

  37. I'm Diane C. Brown. I read your articles. I think it's a good idea. We all are so busy in whole day. I think everybody should think about her vacation. I am making the analysis between the living environment of Ponsonby to the local suburb of where I came from, China. First, this public place give me an impressive feeling : the leisure place. I remember I was wondering at a small public open space when I had a 1 day trip there, no tall building surrounded that open area, those open space contains few young children that playing the sport game, two of them have their mother watching their playing happily. The alfresco dining that occurs in the space enables customers and pedestrians to positively communicate and interact with each other. While Quality Street is only a small part of Whangarei’s CBD, the public space contributes significantly to the overall amenity of the town and its growing ‘sense of place’.