“The Science of Joy in Sao Paulo”

An article written by Jeniffer Heemann, co-founder and executive director of Bela Rua. Her vision of a great public space is a place where people feel good and safe, and where they want to stay a bit longer. But explains that she shouldn’t define how a great public place must be. Only the people who live and work in the vicinity of the space can define that. What is good for one city or neighbourhood might not be good for another. That may be the reason we see so many underused public spaces or dead zones in our cities: they were created without the community’s opinion and participation. In this context, placemaking is a solution. Placemaking is a process that transforms any public space into a place that meets the community needs and desires, inviting people to live the city, connect to each other, and be healthier and happier.

“In order to transform underused public spaces into inspiring active places for people, we tried different approaches to understand the community’s needs and desires. But when people were asked about a space, they couldn’t imagine themselves creating anything nicer there. They just didn’t think of a public space as a great place for people.”

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p278b 75-2_The cube Sao Paulo Brazil Jeniffer Heemann

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Both images: The cube, Sao Paulo Brazil by Jeniffer Heemann
Cover image: UrbanBandagos, Sao Paulo Brazil by Jeniffer Heemann



“Uncovering Hidden Treasures”

An article written by Gerard Peet, Frank Belderbos & Joep Klabbers, lecturer, project manager and architect and all close connected with the Nieuwe Binnenweg. In this article they tell the reader about one of the most authentic shopping streets of Rotterdam West, the Nieuwe Binnenweg. The street is already a while under reconstruction. Over the last few decades the street suffered from economic decline and degradation. With a vacancy rate higher than other streets and a rather low variety in shops, the Nieuwe Binnenweg was in need for an upgrade.

“Although the situation was challenging, close observation of the storefronts demonstrated that not all had been lost; over the years, every new shop owner added a new layer to the storefront, avoiding the hassle of deconstructing the old one. (…) These hidden treasures only had to be unveiled to restore the facades to their original quality.”

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p221b 61-2_Nieuwe_Binneweg_Mei2013_70 Rotterdam NL - CREDIT FFH Frank Hanswijk

Both images: Nieuwe Binnenweg, mei 2013 ©FFH Frank Hanswijk

“Hybrid Zones Make Streets Personal”

An article written by Sander van der Ham and Eric van Ulden, environment psychologist and urban planner. For the book De Stoep researched van der Ham and van Ulden the hybrid zone of 6231 streets in Rotterdam.  The hybrid zone is probably one of the most visible and well-known spaces in the city yet also one of the most forgotten and undervalued spaces. A bench or pots, plants and other personal objects placed on what seems to be the sidewalk create a subtle transition zone, the hybrid zone. Most of the time you will only notice a sudden transition from public to private space — not maintained, not claimed, and not personalized. Yet the hybrid zone plays an important role in establishing contact and interaction between city-residents and creating a friendly, welcoming, and attractive street environment.

“Taking ownership or “claiming” the hybrid zone brings a certain flair to the street. It becomes personalized and it actually looks like it belongs to someone. This “belonging” impacts the immediate social atmosphere by enabling social identification.”

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p144 41-3_Stoep beverwaard Hybrid zones Sander van der Ham.JPG


“Pedestrianisation of Mama Ngina Street”

An article written by Elijah Agevi, Cecilia Andersson and Laura Petrella, together working for UN-Habitat and working on projects in Africa (among others). Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, with a population of about 3.36 million, is one of the most prominent cities in Africa, both politically and financially. Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organisations, including the headquarters for two UN global agencies and several regional ones, Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture.

“With limited financial resources from city, the physical changes to the street have created a very vibrant street where the citizens of Nairobi can enjoy the central business district both day and night.”

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p125a 82-2_Mama Ngina Street Nairobi Kenya Elijah Agevi, Cecilia Andersson, Laura Petrella


“Street Performing: Low Cost, High Impact”

An article written by Vivian Doumpa, urban developer and geographer, and Nick Broad, advocate. Dumpa and Broad right about ‘buskers’ also known as “street performers”. Buskers  are a viable tool for rejuvenating public spaces. If done well, busking is a high-impact, low-cost option. No infrastructure is needed, no barriers, no ticket sales, no marketing, no strategy sessions; just an artist, who doesn’t need a salary, performing for tips. And they can start tomorrow. Buskers prompt social interaction on the street level, create intimacy and allow people feel comfortable and safe. They also provide one of the few forms of live entertainment that lowincome citizens can access and enjoy.

“In Singapore, because of the great amount of buskers wishing to perform, the City established an auditioning process, similar to a talent show. The National Arts Council and the local performers run the process together. In practice, though, many street performers do not bother with getting a license; as long as nobody complains, the police don’t bother them.”

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p115 35-2_MarkRothman_London - CREDIT The Busking Project.jpeg

Mark Rothman, Covent Garden, London ©The Busking Project

“Economic Value of a Walkable City”

An article in our book written by Alexander Ståhle, public space researcher at Spacescape. Stockholm is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. In a study in 2011 and 2012 the housing and office market was analysed in Sweden. The goal was to explore how spatial variables from regional to local level affect the demand for housing and offices. Read more about the study in the article.

“Access to public transport affects apartment and housing prices and also office rents, qualifying the increase of transit-oriented developments and new subways and commuter lines. Surprisingly, car accessibility does not affect apartment and office values, and it has only a marginal impact on house prices.”

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