Of all the myriad facets of urban design, culture is by far the most elusive. Ask a hundred people and you may well get a hundred different answers.
Is it just art, the theatre or music? Is it a style of architecture that has been favoured down the years? Is it the history of a locale or the heritage of the residents? Is it a way of life displayed in the daily routines of the people who live there?
In urban design - particularly placemaking, masterplanning, CPTED and architecture – it can be one or all these sometimes vague qualities, but most especially – it is about quality of life.
TDP recognises the importance of quality of life in creating successful communities. Communities with a high quality of life attract people – smart people.
In the words of urban economist Edward Glaesar (Harvard University), who speaks about the importance of quality of life – “these cities attract smart people and enable them to work and play collaboratively. There is no such thing as a successful city without human capital.”
In a nutshell, whether it’s a city or rural village, quality of life represents an individual’s physical, mental, social and cultural wellbeing. Naturally, this highlights the pivotal role of culture and public art in the attainment of quality of life and how the very success of a city is balanced upon it.
The attainment of quality of life is naturally sympathetic with the concept of culture forming the 4th pillar of sustainability (cultural vibrancy, economic prosperity, environmental responsibility and social justice).
We argue that the economic pillar cannot succeed without culture. For instance, a city needs smart people – entrepreneurs – to start a business, employ people and become part of that city. So why would that entrepreneur and their talented employees come to live in your community?
A study produced by Endeavour Insights identified the ‘magic formula’ for attracting and retaining the best entrepreneurs, was by creating a great place to live. One of the criteria in creating a great place to live is meeting each of the Quality of Life factors – one of which is culture.
The TDP approach to Cultural Projects and Reports
TDP uses culture studies to arrive at urban design solutions that will most effectively resonate with the human beings who choose to live, work and play there.
Before even conceiving the rudimentary outlines of urban design solutions, we carry out social, economic and historical research. We conduct community consultations. In other words – we presume nothing.
Public art is often a key aspect of a placemaking project. TDP regularly teams with specialist art consultants, artists and other placemaking specialists to provide urban design advice to ensure that their design ideas fit well with the public domain.
Understanding the built environment is critical in the optimum siting and typologies of artworks, street furniture and other cultural and urban elements.
The TDP design team provides clear analysis that is used to better understand a site and its context. Critically, this will include understanding a site’s cultural and historical background -information that informs the thematic approach for an artwork.
These art works often also play an important role in CPTED projects - where they can help engender a sense of community pride and ownership of a public space - an essential aspect of deterring antisocial elements.
Here are some of The Design Partnership’s cultural analysis projects:
- Maitland Place Activation Strategy
- Dee Why Town Centre Public Art and Placemaking Plan
- Macquarie Park Public Art Strategy