Uula Saastamoinen is working with the HERE+NOW team for a 4 week period to learn more about the co-design processes we use in all our design, place-making and landscape architecture projects before he goes on to study a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Uula is learning about a different aspect of the work we do each week. This is his second of a series of blogs about his experiences and learnings.
This week I took part in a public life street assessment project for several town centres in Edinburgh. The purpose of street assessment is to collect data about the 'public life' of particular streets and spaces for analysis to enable the making of better informed decisions for their future improvement.
I visited Nicolson St/Clerk St, Stockbridge and Portobello on three consecutive days, and made observations about obstacles and other things which might affect the flow of pedestrians and how desirable these places are. I documented my findings with a camera, and I also interviewed local people to get their view on different pros and cons of the area. All these tasks are part of a larger system of mapping people’s movement at different times of the day and different days of the week, and are designed to provide solutions which take into account the locals’ aspirations and knowledge, meaning they also end up being cost-effective - targeting solutions that maximise impact for users.
One of the key things I noticed was the series of issues caused by narrow streets and very limited space for sidewalks, especially in places like Stockbridge where there are many young families. Bus stops provide shelter, but can also act as obstacles during busy hours. While the initial expression of the area is important, local people’s input is very priceless in knowing where to get started. The result is a huge pile of data, which is then used to suggest small and big changes to these town centres. It was an exciting week for me, and I am glad I had an opportunity to take part in the process!