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Turning Space into Place: What Makes a Successful Place?

Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, neighborhood schools – where we interact with each other and government. When the spaces work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. What makes some places succeed while others fail? In evaluating thousands of public spaces around the world, The Project for Public Spaces has found that successful ones have four key qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged; the space is comfortable; and finally, it is a sociable place. From:

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When we think about how to craft spaces that are empowering and safe for women, it makes sense to look at conditions neccessary for these spaces to successfully transform into places

In his book the Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, William Whyte writes about how public spaces contribute fundamentally to the quality of life of individuals and society. When we think about how to create physical places that facilitate positive interactions and grow strong communities, the place diagram tool offers much insight. 

If structure does in fact dictates behavior, perhaps if we focus more on create spaces that meet the criteria of a "successful place" we will be closer to crafting safer urban areas. The question then becomes, what do these criteria of successful places actually look like to women in low income rural areas? For example, one of the criteria of a successful place, as outlined by the Project for public space, is "sociability". What does sociability mean for women and how can we best facilitate that to drive safety?

How can be create spaces that are sociable, have uses, create access & linkages, and meet the criteria of comfort and image that is relevant to the population we are trying to serve?

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The Sound of Safety


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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Emily for highlighting the difference between space and place and how a place is physically situated but also socially constructed.
I particularly love your question regarding "what does sociability mean for women?" I would add for women in a certain culture, in a certain socio-economical context. yet, having concepts such as you offered provide great guidelines and rules of thumbs as we start ideating. They are some of the universal concepts that can help us thinking across diverse contexts.

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