What we'd like to see in the next decade

Sarah Gaventa
8 January 2010

Seats you can sit on, nomadic allotments, green routes everywhere and a landscape architect to win the Stirling Prize - all things that CABE Space wants to see in the next 10 years.

Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space

Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space

Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space, outlined this wishlist for public spaces in an interview with Landscape magazine:

  • The green spaces in social housing projects to be of the same quality as a Green Flag or Green Pennant park.
  • Every new housing development of more than 50 houses to have some public space designed into it. A car park doesn't count.
  • Solve the problem in urban streets of how people who are visually impaired can navigate well, without throwing out the whole shared space agenda. CABE Space has sponsored a research fellow at the RCA to look at product design: blister paving is 20 years old and we believe design innovation needs to keep evolving in our public spaces.
  • All of our street furniture to be designed by furniture and product designers and not by engineers so we get seats you can actually sit on, not the same ubiquitous designs in every city. We want to see furniture that is distinctive and of the place.
  • Reverse the loss of democracy in privately managed public spaces. I have sat on grass in new urban squares and been asked to move within five minutes because it's not really a 'public' space.
  • Kids to be allowed urban play spaces close to their homes, schools and shopping centres and reverse the attitude from some local authorities that play isn't a priority.
  • Fallow urban development sites to be used as nomadic allotments full of grow bags.
  • The importance and value of green infrastructure to be understood and embraced at regional, county and local levels and fully integrated within planning policies and frameworks.
  • To be able to walk or cycle through every city on some sort of green route.
  • Vocal, innovative landscape architects to lead projects, with architects being part of their team.
  • Manual for Streets Volumes 2, 3 and 4 to be published for high streets, commercial streets and arterial roads so that the balance between people and cars is redressed throughout our towns and cities.
  • For a landscape architect to win the Stirling Prize.
  • For professionals to stop talking about public space as 'the space between buildings' but as the places that make cities work.

This list was originally printed in the Autumn 2009 issue of Landscape Magazine which focused on CABE's 10th anniversary.

Your comments

Katharine Harrison on 11 January 2010 at 10.58am

Will progress with these objectives be monitored? Is CABE's success in advising developers and local authorities on design issues and achieving space saving objectives already being monitored?

Tim Pinder on 15 January 2010 at 4.21pm

How refreshing to see such bold, visionary, ambitious and coherent ideas; well done Cabe! and hat's off for remaining so positive, when unfortunatley there seems so little evidence that there is any appretite to embrace or enforce these on developers and planners who lack your vision.

Malcolm Griffiths on 31 March 2010 at 11.10am

Jane Jacobs in the Death and Life of Great American Cities was one of the first to observe and comment on the value of informal play space for young children. Much of childrens play in the City took place immediately outside the home on the sidewalk often in short spaces of time, just after school, just waiting for dinner, just before bedtime etc.

This is of course still true today given the opportunity. Whilst play areas can play a part they are often a good walk away from a home and shared surfaces can often be car dominated, I wonder whether there should be more emphasis on providing wider pavements in selected areas of our urban environment closer to the home to accommodate more 'idle play'.