Sidewalk design in multi-cultural settings: a study of street furniture layout and design
journal contributionposted on 12.10.2021, 23:28 by M Lesan, Morten GjerdeMorten Gjerde
Public space, and all the complexities surrounding its creation and management, continues to be the domain of urban designers. In multi-cultural societies, the users of public space come from a diverse range of social and ethnic backgrounds, each with some unique needs and interests. Because of this, it can be assumed that social, cultural, and economic characteristics of people living in an area should be evident in the design and use of the public spaces. The research reported in this paper identifies the sidewalk design characteristics and furniture arrangements that can foster social activities amongst people from diverse cultural backgrounds. The research followed a mixed, multi-staged methodology. Stage one used structured field observations and surveys of street users. Three suburban centre streets in two New Zealand cities were studied in this way to understand the patterns of usage along their length. Stage two sought people’s preferences for different street design configurations through an on-line survey. The main conclusion from this research is that the seating preferences of different ethnicities are in many ways similar. However, people make specific decisions on where to sit based on the location, orientation and arrangement of seating and how it relates to different land-use activities. The findings confirm that a complex set of factors influence social activity along streets and that, in light of this, designers should become familiar with the diverse needs and expectations of those who make use of the sidewalks.