What makes a successful public space?

The public’s relationship with public spaces is evolving and for our own architectural and design vision that means that research, consultation, experience and mindful insights are all critical ingredients in quality, thoughtful design.

Designing public space comes with a unique set of challenges. Overcoming these challenges, in relation to the public space projects our team has been part of recently, is something that has required honest and open communication between all stakeholders. Investigating public feedback and input from members of the community the space is designed to serve is also vital.

But also just as important is a willingness to take risks. Public design can be playful and bold, as long as it’s not merely about being different just for the sake of being different.

“Traditional aspirations for public space can be narrow,” says Marc Debney. ‘For example, a train station should merely be functional, to move people quickly. Or, that a museum should be an internally-focussed space that is more about the objects inside, rather than the city around it. Challenging these traditional assumptions around what a building is expected to be can be one of the most difficult aspects of public space design. By pushing old boundaries, our approach at Genton is to create innovative public spaces that are unique but still friendly and, somehow, familiar.”

There is, undeniably, a “significant responsibility with the design of a public building”, says Steven Toia. “It’s not just about satisfying the immediate client. The building must be worthy of longer-term ownership by the public and be something that will enhance the city, over time.” A successful public space, says Steven, “becomes a place where people feel a sense of ownership over the space – it’s somewhere safe, welcoming and uplifting”.

Marc agrees. “A successful public space should exceed someone’s expectation of what that type of space is. Public space is a catalyst for the spaces around it – enhancing and activating an entire precinct, through the quality of the design and the uniqueness of the idea that the space embodies,” he says.

Each member of the Genton team is honoured to be part of the design process of some significant contemporary Australian Architecture and, as Genton’s brand builds and we take on more and more iconic public space projects across Australia, we look forward to the opportunity to explore the notion of what makes a successful space even more deeply.