Social Life who researched the potential of community and places in 2015 published a report called ‘ Shared Outdoor spaces’ What Works? This fascinating report analyses 4 developments around the UK that contain shared outdoor spaces and it’s potential and pitfalls. Much of the document focussed on design that perhaps misses the mark when it comes to creating community but it makes some great suggestions too. A few of the key suggestions are:
Make sure communal areas where people will spend time like shared outdoor seating or dining areas get at much sunlight as possible. A shady north-facing spot discourages use.
Consider covered areas. Often lightweight architectural structures can make a great sculptural addition to space, creating shade in the summer and shelter in the winter.
Make sure the space has a clear use. Too many developments are designed without considering how it’s going to be used, or what it’s for.
Make sure the maintenance is within your capacity. How well maintained a space is directly affects how well it’s used.
A shared space should cater for the needs of different age groups and interests.
Good sight lines between homes and communal spaces means communal spaces are self-policed and responsibility shared.
Also worth looking at is the Clyde Mews project in Brunswick, Australia. Whilst it’s a bit far for us to pay a visit, it certainly seems like it is being developed with the same values as Fruit Market.