Public places

Infographic: Our favourite public space hacks

From enhancing accessibility to fostering a welcoming atmosphere, here are eight ways to maximize the potential of our shared spaces.

Published on July 13, 2023

Two young women walking in a public park in a town with picnic tables and other individuals blurred in the background.

Unlocking the potential of public spaces goes way beyond aesthetics.


We’re exploring how public spaces are designed, curated and managed to create enjoyable and functional environments for people.


Check out the infographic below to explore some of our favorite public space improvements. You’ll be surprised to see how simple and small additions can create a significant and meaningful impact.


Graphic of public space park with people in it. Different elements are numbered one through eight.


1. Wayfinding: Say goodbye to wandering aimlessly! Common wayfinding elements include maps, directional signage, street signs and even mobile apps. Working together, these elements enhance navigation, increase safety and improve accessibility in our common spaces.


2. Public art: The Public Art Network Council says public art humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces. Sculptures, murals, installations and other forms of public art enhances vibrancy, celebrates cultural identity and promotes creativity and expression.


3. Litter cleanup: Organizing litter clean-up days encourages civic participation and fosters a sense of ownership and pride in the community. As an extra hack, you can distribute clean-up kits at community spaces, which can include litter pickers, gloves and trash bags.


4. Seating: Take a load off. Seating provides opportunities for rest, relaxation, socializing and observation. Studies show people stay longer in a space that has better seating quality. Renowned Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl wrote that there is no reason for people to stay in a space unless there is somewhere to sit.


5. Tactile design: Tactile elements enhance accessibility and navigation for those with visual impairments or other mobility impairments. It emphasizes the use of tactile cues, such as texture, shape, raised surfaces and even colour contrast to convey information and aid navigation.


6. Open space: Open space can serve as venues for public events, festivals, markets, concerts and other gatherings that connect the community. Need a little extra room for an epic picnic or spontaneous frisbee match? Community spaces are your open canvas.


7. Lighting: Ample lighting in public space is always a bright idea. Lighting extends use of public spaces after sunset, encouraging more social activities and connection. A study from Urban Labs even found that adding extra light led to a 36% reduction in serious crime.


8. Greenery and landscaping: This improvement is truly a breath of fresh air. Incorporating plants, gardens and other green spaces can improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, enhance biodiversity and even reduce flood risks.

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