A good place: functioning? Liveable? Loveable??

For decades we’ve taken a prosaic approach to our towns and cities, focussing on physical infrastructure, and, recently “liveable” places. What could we see through a lens of “loveable” places?

Is a loveable place different from a liveable one? Does a place’s loveability compensate for some basic things being broken?

Consultancy firm GHD has come up with a new framework for assessing the performance of public space, and they’re out and about publicising it, including with a free talk on Thursday 7th (10am).

It’s the latest addition to a field including public life surveying, place scores, placemaking indices, and public life evaluations, and a real slew of whole-city “most liveable” and “quality of life” awards.

In a Local Government Magazine article, Micala Lander says:

“When we consider loveable places, we’re talking about more than just considering whether there’s a train station nearby to a house. We’re asking what happens when somebody leaves their home to get to the station. What’s their journey like? Who do they meet on the way? How safe do they feel? A loveable approach to urban planning focuses not on the number of benches in an area, but on the number of people using them, how long they spend there and the types of interactions they have using them.”

As Lander acknowledges, this is a fairly elementary approach: “In essence, this is taking a placemaking approach to urban planning. Whereby the form and function of a place are guided by, and developed in response to, the ‘place identity’ and the ‘people’s experience’.” (Shudder quotes around place identity and people’s experience are from the original; link to placemaking definition added by Talk Wellington.)

It’s great to see more holism in how we think about places to live, and it’s good to see frameworks being brought to bear on what’s traditionally been considered too nebulous and fluffy to measure and manage. We’ll be tuning in to see what the Loveable Infrastructure folks have to add to existing frameworks like those above, plus Te Whare Tapa Whā and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Can a city be just so damn loveable that you don’t mind having to clean up poo from time to time?

Yes, but… we’ve got such great nightlife and awesome Sunday markets…

If you’re curious, sign up for the free talk on Thursday 7th (10am).

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