About civic spaces
Civic spaces are places at the heart of our communities. They have significant meaning, activity functions, and built forms. They are often located in major centres, tourist and leisure destinations, or community hubs, and are destinations for large numbers of people.
The design of civic spaces needs to:
- Prioritise staying activities – layouts within civic spaces should prioritise space for staying activities over movement functions.
- Prioritise walking – safe and comfortable conditions for walking are a feature of civic spaces. Even those who arrive via another mode of transport will often walk for the last portion of their journey. This includes people of all abilities, so like any provision for walking, paths through these spaces must be accessible.
- Provide a safe, low-speed environment – the high number of people walking means vehicles need to use the space as ‘guests’, moving at low speeds and volumes for safety reasons and to minimise the impact of noise and air pollution on amenity.
- Manage freight and servicing – civic spaces are often associated with retail and commercial activity. Planning for deliveries and servicing needs to include a detailed understanding of how these activities will operate, including the likely mix of business types, and any seasonal and temporal variation. Understanding the physical needs of the servicing functions is also essential.
- Provide easy access to cycling routes and public transport, and limit through-traffic – as a high level of movement through these spaces is undesirable there needs to be clear access to and from broader networks.
Issues and opportunities
- Providing benefits to communities that outweigh pressure to provide direct access for private vehicles, and articulating this benefit during network planning stages.
- Incorporating the stories and values of a diverse community and expressing these in the built environment.
Accessible and connected
- Managing the movement of people through the civic space, including at intersections, especially where it conflicts with people staying.
- Providing equitable access to diverse user groups in a community space, across different ages, genders, and backgrounds.
Flexible and sustainable
- Understanding differences in program and capacity on ‘normal days’ and in ‘event mode’.
- Bringing blue and green infrastructure into highly urbanised spaces.
Safe and secure
- Designing the interface between the civic space and the surrounding road network to carefully balance the need for access and the safety of people using the civic space with the functions of the surrounding network.
- Managing conflict between walking, cycling and private vehicles, and communicating right of way by indicating clearly whether the different modes share space or are separated.
Civic spaces are found where place intensity is higher and movement function is lower. This often includes significant streets inside or approaching urban centres, as well as other streets with significance in their neighbourhood context.
Civic space types