23116_FOC Centralized Content_Open Space_Report_v3


The growth of cities is often linked to increased density driving agglomeration. However, that is not their defining characteristic. Cities sprawl. Sprawl outpaces intensification in the majority of cases. Taking Paris as an example, 22-fold population growth between 1800 and 2020 was more than offset by a 200-fold increase in its urban area. People wanting more space is a human trait. As people become wealthier, they want more space, and transport - public or otherwise - allows workers to access the benefits of agglomeration and open space. Public realm and open space have long been defining characteristics of our cities over time. Think Ancient Athens and the birthplace of democracy, and much more recently, London’s Royal Parks, Jardin de Luxembourg, Central Park and the various piazzas, plazas and piacas of our European cities that the heart of our cities.

Three prevailing trends have driven increased open space in our cities. Firstly, the changes in where we work has driven functional obsolescence, and increased development and placemaking opportunities that focus on the quality of place and its carbon impact. Secondly, continued development of smaller homes in our cities, increased the necessity for open space not only for public health requirements, but for community engagement and excitement. Thirdly, the increased focus on environmental and social value, biodiversity gain as well as lower impact shifts towards urban farming created the provision of open, and in most cases, green space as an essential part of largescale development.


1 Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

Where are we starting to see this?

These factors, in addition to increased understanding with regard to placemaking has driven increased allocation to open space through planning policy leading to increased gardens, squares and public space whether that be for people to relax, meet or attend events. This has taken the form of manicured gardens and getting back in touch with nature; millions of trees have been planted everywhere as part of a public campaign. We have also seen a drive towards more interactive and community-led use of space; such as festivals, rotational art displays, and sporting events, as well as an increase in outdoor dining, as the climate continues to change. While open spaces tend to be very much in the public realm, we have seen a continued trend of creation of ‘quasi-public spaces’ owned and managed by the private sector. This has in more recent years been often focused on health and wellbeing and social value but can range from rooftops to corporate campuses and outdoor entertainment precincts and increasingly combines a commercial or advertising angle along with a space to relax. These spaces in particular are actively managed and full of events, rather than the passive parks of the past century. Takeaways » Higher quality provision of open space and public / private realm. » Greater activation of spaces through operations and events. » Warming climate supports greater range of year round outdoor activities. » New space found through reuse of roads, rooftops and development gain. » Open space becomes an important component of private projects an increase in quasi-public space.

Champs Elysees

The city of Paris has announced that one of the world’s most famous shopping streets, the Champs Elysees, will undergo a radical transformation into a pedestrian friendly green space. Paris, a city with significant pollution issues, is moving in the direction of other major European cities in deprioritising cars in its CBD. At one time, grand boulevards signified status. However, in the modern model of more intimate and experience focused retail, the days of 70m wide traffic-intersected malls are numbered. By narrowing the road, halving the number of cars, widening the sidewalks and planting thousands of trees, the street not only becomes greener, but also better adapted to modern retail. The reclaimed space will include ‘planted living rooms’ as well as food kiosks, and meeting spaces. The project will stand as a centrepiece to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s ‘15-minute city’ proposals.


2 Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

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