The role of business agglomerations in stimulating static and social activities in multicultural streets
journal contributionposted on 2021-10-12, 23:23 authored by M Lesan, Morten Gjerde
Urban designers and city planners are increasingly interested in how streets can support social activities. Street-based social activities are influenced by relationships between the street’s physical characteristics, the business activities that take place there and how these two factors are managed over time. As New Zealand’s population becomes more diverse, a key challenge is to design and manage public spaces so that people from different socio-cultural backgrounds can enjoy spending time there. The ethnic retail phenomenon is considered one of the most recognisable symbols of multiculturalism. In many cases, the identity of an ethnic neighbourhood has developed around a specific mix of retailing activities. Despite this, very little work has been done to identify the characteristics of shops and businesses along streets that can help stimulate social intercourse. This paper explores how commercial business agglomerations can support efforts to make streets more culturally diverse. Through observations of activity along streets and interviews with people from three ethnically diverse communities in New Zealand, it was revealed that the extent to which streets become the public domain of different ethnic groups is dependent on the retail activities on offer. We conclude with reflections about the importance of municipal intervention and management for multicultural planning practice in streets.