Public Space

Building a Sense of Place

Public spaces that offer meaning are more significant

Sense of place is when we feel a connection to the place we stay in. It can range from any place from our workplace to a public space. The difference between a place and a space is that a ‘place’ has deeper meaning and creates an identity within people whereas a space is where anyone can pass by without really attaching any significance to it.

Public spaces can create this sense of place when people visit the space often and return to the space because they like the feel and are attached to it in some way. It is this deeper connection to a public space that makes the space a place for people to come back and associate with it. This is a concept from placemaking where the idea of a place is understood further to create a sense of place. There are few places that create this bond between people and the physical space, for example the High Line or Millenium Park create this sense of place where people long to go back or when it becomes a tourist attraction.

However, there are many public spaces that need to apply this concept of sense of place to create better, more functional spaces. There are many parks and playgrounds from those in big cities like New York to smaller cities where the spaces have not been maintained well and fail to accomplish a sense of place. Simple ideas like interactive art or pedestrian spaces can make public spaces become places for people. This was achieved in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles where 21 multi-colored swings were installed to make the space more vibrant and welcoming.

Therefore, it is important to create a sense of place in public spaces to change the space into a ‘place’. Having a sense of place creates a personal identity and helps the city become more personable and meaningful to the people, particularly the community living in the cities. I hope more cities adopt the idea of sense of place to enhance their neighborhoods and public spaces so that we can all enjoy a meaningful sense of place.