Cities: How Urban Design can make People Less Likely to Use Public Spaces
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Urban beautification campaigns are usually sold to local residents as a way to improve their daily lives. Design elements – from lighting systems to signs, benches, bollards, fountains and planters, and sometimes even surveillance equipment – are used to refurbish and embellish public spaces.
Designers refer to these elements as “urban furniture”. And the projects they’re used in are usually aimed at increasing social interaction, heightening safety, improving accessibility and generally making life in the city better.
Some research argues, however, that such beautification campaigns can result in public urban spaces becoming more exclusive. Despite the promises with which they are marketed, if these projects disregard what local people need, they can feel less able, or willing, to make use of these spaces.