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Good Public Space 
Every city wishes to prioritize citizens' well-being when planning its public spaces. But do we really know how good our parks and plazas are and how to make them better?
 

At Humankind, we believe public space to be the heart and soul of cities. Their defining element, the public arena where citizens’ life takes place.

Now that over half of the world’s population lives and works in urban areas, more than ever we need to rethink the way public space looks and performs.We developed a simple, all-in-one, human-centric approach for bringing all the necessary insights and lessons together in order to understand what can make our public spaces good.

Our definition of good
putting humans at the core

Tons of data, extensive research, in-depth studies, inspiring lectures… information in all formats has been published over the past decades hinting to what good public space can mean. We’ve gathered all that knowledge, processed the big words and the endless numbers, and created a model to better understand the dynamics between humans and public spaces – a model that can also help us evaluate and discuss the goodness of public space.

Our indicators inform about how well a public space facilitates activities essential for biological, psychological and sociological needs – in short, how it contributes to our health and well-being.

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Analysis (GPSA)

Our Good Public Space Analysis service applies the Model to provide data and accessible information for cities and designers on the quality of any public space.

The Good Public Space Analysis delivers a comprehensive overview of the interplay between the design of public space and its use, finds the mismatches between the two, and helps to understand how the space impacts human health and well-being.

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The steps are simple

human

space

Selecting a location.

The analysis can be applied and tailored to a diversity of public spaces.

01
Observing users’ behaviors.

Understanding the profiles of those using the space and how they do it: what activities do they do, what relationships do they have with the place?

03
Analyzing the space.

Understanding the design of public space: does it allow the users to do activities that positively impact our health and well-being?

02
Generating results and suggestions.

Delivering a comprehensive dashboard explaining how the space facilitates the needs of people using it and what the areas for improvement are.

04

Whether you want to define design principles before a redesign of a park or plaza, lay the groundwork for a participatory process, or zoom out to work better on a strategic plan for an area development, our analysis helps designers and policy-makers to make better informed decisions about human-centric public spaces.

With the GPSA you can be sure to not overlook any dimension of truly good public spaces.

Workshop (GPSW)

The needs, preferences, and experiences of people who live, work, and visit a public space are central to our goal of putting people at the core of design. However, they differ per person - think for instance of an elderly person living in a neighborhood where a new playground is being built.

Will they be able to appreciate that change in the public space as much as the parent of an energetic child?

These varied, sometimes contradicting visions, can (and have) easily been overlooked during planning processes.

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To respond to this, we developed the Good Public Space Workshop. Our workshop uses the Good Public Space model both as a prompt for collective strategy exercises and as a tool to strengthen collaboration between all parties involved in city making, both within one and among different organizations – think municipalities, citizens, developers and more. We help to understand not only what a Good Public Space is, but also what it means for the different people using it.

During the workshop, participants have the opportunity to learn about how to assess the quality of a public space, empathize with other people experiencing it and use innovative tools to visualize their ideas. In collaboration with UrbanistAI, participants are given the opportunity to create AI-generated images that represent their ideas of new designs for public space. In this way, AI is used as a tool in the context of a collaborative exercise, to support and help discuss the potential options of redesign of a specific space.

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Structure of the workshop

How do different people experience public space?

EMPATHIZE

The participants are given different prompts and profiles, with which they will be asked to carry out a practical exercise.

01
What could a new design for a public space that matches the needs of different people be?

IMAGINE

The analysis is followed by a visualisation moment where that empathy in thinking from someone else’s point of view is to be translated into images: participants are asked to produce visuals that can stir debate about potential futures in the public space in question.

03
Does the current design respond to the needs of various users?

ASSESS

The starting point is an analysis of the public area –through a space assessment exercise– from a variety of points of view. The aim is to bring participants to step into other people’s shoes: people with different backgrounds, needs, visions and dislikes about a specific area.

02
What do the different ideas mean for different people?

DISCUSS

The session ends with a focus on activation – a collection of the results of the participation exercises and the sketching of a roadmap for future action and execution.

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Are you a part of an innovation, design or a participation team looking to learn about how to empathize and put humans at the core of public space design, collaboration and using innovative tools to visualize your ideas? Or are you just curious about experiencing a new way of looking at and understanding public spaces?

This workshop is for you!

What are the possibilities?

The Good Public Space Analysis and Workshop are independent services, delivering separate results, but they can also be used together. The baseline methodology –the model– stays the same, but each of the two services is flexible and can be tailored for specific situations, objectives and contexts.

Are you interested in the Good Public Space Analysis?

Do you want to understand the “goodness” of a public space and receive a comprehensive overview to see what the areas for improvement are?

Exploration

A starting point for new spatial plans or redesign plans, providing baseline measurements and other information relevant to create a redesign brief. 

Alignment

The analysis’ innovative way to look at public space strengthens collaboration and coordination across teams and projects, providing a tool to develop cross-departmental design principles.

Context awareness

The analysis can provide relevant information to target specific activations, interventions or questions aimed at citizens about specific parts of a public space.

Management or maintenance

Continuous quality evaluation of a specific public space.

Are you interested in the Good Public Space Workshop?

Does the Analysis sound relevant but you would like to explore it further? Would you like to involve colleagues or partners in analysing the quality and possibilities for redesign of a specific public space?

Learn about what makes a Good Public Space

Deepen your knowledge of what is needed to build a good public space with people at the center.

Understand existing public spaces

Unveil how existing public spaces 'score' for different people and needs.

Start collaborating with stakeholders

An active and inclusive way of collaboration with anyone involved in public space design that provides actionable insights and clarity.

Experience the Power of Human-Centered AI

Visuals are a quick and easy way to envision the future of public spaces.

Discuss future possibilities

Consider, evaluate and analyse the impacts of various choices and engage in a well-founded and clear discussion.

Experience a new approach to city making

Unlock the potential of a completely new way of working based on collaboration, rediscovery and action.

What did the people who have already participated in Good Public Space activities think?

“I learned the integrated use of technology and stepping into someone else’s shoes.”

Participant of the GPS Workshop in Zaandam, organized for Babel Zaans on 24th April 2024.

“What I valued the most about the workshop was seeing the contradictions of what different people want and need and how that affects others.”

“I would recommend this workshop to anyone since the tools are very user friendly and not only for designers. It could be good to try it on a more broad public as a co-designing process and stepping into someone else’s shoes.”

Participant in the GPS workshop with Baltan Laboratories,

has part of their workshop series “AI in the Hood”, in autumn 2023.

Do you want to evaluate your public spaces?

Do you want to make better-informed decisions to create more human-centric public spaces?

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