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Water’s edge Paris France
What makes it great?:As the central spine of the city it provides an invitation for everyone, from the youths that take over the bridges for picnics in the evening, to tourists and small businesses. It is also very beautiful which helps!
What would make it better?:The Paris Plage project that turns the river’s edge into a beach reflects the changing needs of the community who if they don’t leave Paris for the hottest month of August, need something to do. It’s a great initiative and more activities like this will continue to give the public spaces along the river more relevance to the people who want to use them.
Kylie Legge, Director at Place Partners
Other London England
What makes it great?:The Millennium Bridge straddling the River Thames takes you from St Paul's Cathedral to the Tate Modern. It's a pedestrian only bridge; I love pedestrian power, no competition with cars! You can transport yourself so quickly from the centuries old St Paul's across the river to a converted power station that is now a contemporary art gallery, and all in a straight line! It's very contemporary, completed in 2000 (something I find myself seeking out amongst all the period architecture in London town), it's steel, and it's shiny. Suspending yourself over the river in London is one of the few places (apart from the parks) where you are surrounded by spaciousness and nature. I also love the destination: the Tate Modern. I am always crossing this bridge en route to the gallery to see an exhibition, so the journey is also filled with the anticipation of the works I am going to see. A journey of delight!
What would make it better?:The weather! Now onto things within the realm of possibility... I'd like to make the Millennium Bridge a little wider. The through traffic is so busy at times making it tricky to stop, to take photos, or to walk slowly without being bumped into. There should be little side platforms, or pods, that you can step out onto to just to soak in the view - or sunshine if you're lucky!
Vicky Clare, Digital Content Producer at British Sky Broadcasting
Water’s edge Sydney Australia
What makes it great?:The coastal pools are perhaps the one moment where Sydney starts to fully understand itself. Public spaces based upon European classicism, mid-century optimism or New Urbanism have yielded patchy results. However, these pools are a quintessential Sydney space combining water, shelter, intimate spaces and the larger plaza of the pool. The theatre which results from the spatial arrangement invites interaction between the diverse cross-section of visitors, from Russian Jewish grandmothers to Anglo twenty-something's working off the previous night's party. Opportunities exist for privacy, surveillance, exhibitionism and modesty, all of which can be controlled by the individual.
What would make it better?:A more generous spatial arrangement at entry; one that implies that entry is actually free (it only costs if you swim).
Gerard Reinmuth, Director at Terroir
Other Istanbul Turkey
What makes it great?:Its the oldest and largest covered market in the world. Its completely full of delicious ethnic Turkish delights of all kinds that can be bartered for. The vibe is totally electric and due to the age and history of the place it feels like nothing has changed since ancient biblical times. Smells range from the pungent stench of lamb meat stewing in a old copper pot, to sweetened bubbling turkish coffee to the smell of cardamon and aniseed spices. Its the ultimate retail experience.
What would make it better?:Less hideous tourists souvenirs like pointed shoes and glass evil eyes and more ancient ceramic tiles, vintage ecat fabrics and beaten copper pots.
Sam Roseman, International Tailoring Manager at SHANGHAI TANG
Park Corniche Abu Dhabi
What makes it great?:The corniche alongside the water and the parks across the street have been designed to be inviting, functional, and welcoming. In cooler times, this has become the most relaxing point in the city where rollerbladers can cruise in their own 'fast lane', kids can learn to ride bikes, and people can get out of their cars and mingle with each other for a change. There is plenty of parking, and the range of water fountains give you a choice of many environments to relax, open up your camping chairs, smoke shisha, have a bbq or just relax. The parks are becoming a place where one can really feel a sense of being a part of this very unique city, which counts itself as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world.
What would make it better?:More properly cleaned toilet facilities and more tall shady trees or tenting would make it better. Also vendors such as ice cream vans, coffee shops, and shwarma stands would get more people out and really make Abu Dhabi feel more like a community melting pot, and less like a salad bowl.
Amy Subaey , Professional Development at English Language Teachers
Park Edinburgh United Kingdom
What makes it great?:Harrison Park is located next to Union Canal- a scenic link along the water to the city- in the western suburbs of Edinburgh. It forms the ideal ‘backyard’ for residents in surrounding tenement buildings and the local area. The park is divided by Harrison Road and shared paths, which also divide and designate different uses such as football pitches, the dog free area and the kids play park.
What would make it better?:More and a variety of seating is required within the park to allow people to site and enjoy the space for longer.
Tara Kalpage, Intern at Place Partners
Park Al Ain Abu Dhabi
What makes it great?:It is well used, probably because it is the largest, best landscaped park close to the Central District of Al Ain. The layout and landscaping provide places to picnic, places for young guys to play informal soccer, interesting paths and changes in level between the water features, promenades and running space, sitting areas and a playground for smaller children. The backdrop provided by Al Jahili Fort is fantastic, and the Rotana Hotel and the palaces across the streets help to create the atmosphere as well.
What would make it better?:A few larger shade trees with benches would improve its daytime use. A perimeter running track, perhaps with some exercise stations, would help the fitness types, and would separate them from the more leisurely walkers who prefer to stroll near the fountains. The private land at the rear of the park, and perhaps part of the car park to the southeast could be developed with a row of two storey shops and restaurants facing the park. At the rear of the shops should be a public bath-house for labourers, because they currently use the toilets in the park.
Stephen Goldie, City Planning Advisor at Al Ain Municipality
Park Sydney Australia
What makes it great?:This place has a story, a rich history of utility and abandonment, now a relatively new "space" it is bursting with potential. Situated below ground like excavated ruins, only metres away lies the busy serpent of Oxford Street. On a regular basis I will pick up my mail from the post office across the road grab a coffee and sit in the gardens to ponder. The space includes, mini art gallery, protected alcoves for lovers, underground event space and lush green grass to stretch out on. Very inspiring indeed, given that once upon at time it was a water tank.
What would make it better?:Opening the space up for evening events, such as hot noodle nights and speakeasies. It's also a great exhibition space, which could work in conjunction with the "Australian Centre for Photography" next door.
Adam Mada, Magician at adammada
Other New York City USA
What makes it great?:The people. They are so strong and with the most amazing faces, have so much character, and are so ready to talk to you if you feel like it. It is the place that really makes me feel that I'm in New York and therefore at the centre of the world.
What would make it better?:Alas, just like any New Yorker, I have a list of grievances against the MTA that snakes around the block. Sometimes the subway system is so dysfunctional that you don't know what's going to get you to your destination last, whether the train or a taxi, or your own feet. But what makes the subway system so unnerving is, it is just one of the many dysfunctions that people who live in NY put up with in order to live in NY. We like to complain and take pride in our pain all together.
Paola Antonelli, Design Curator at Museum of Modern Art
Park Antigua Guatemala
What makes it great?:The park attracts a wide variety of users but one group, ‘the family’, claims Parque Central as their third place. As the regulars of the space, ‘the family’ can be seen selling hand made gifts in the morning, sharing a meal at lunch and enjoying the atmosphere of the city at night. They take ownership of the space but are not ‘above’ visitors, providing a friendly, safe and playful atmosphere for all to enjoy. During Easter, the uniqueness of Parque Central is only intensified as it plays host to a series of street events and parades designed by locals for locals. At this time, the energy, colour and history of the local people is on display for all to experience.
What would make it better?:The balance between traditional values and modern aspirations must be managed to ensure that the unique place character of Parque Central is not consumed by the expectations of global tourism.
John O’Callaghan, Junior Place Maker at Place Partners Pty Ltd
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