Studying Urban Environmental Management has opened my eyes in many ways on how cities can become more enjoyable and liveable. One of my favourite examples is the tactical urbanism they applied in New York City. They decided that the way Times Square was used was not beneficial for anyone, not for the retailers, the pedestrians, the car drivers nor the tourists.
It was a place to run over towards a destination, rather than a place to walk, linger and enjoy city life. In order to change this they decided to change the square with a low cost installation: they painted a great part of it with polka dots, put some lawn chairs and prevented cars. The change was amazing and it started a revolutionary city planning approach, which spread out towards many other places in the world.
The tactical urbanism fever has reached the Wellington City Council as well. This summer several pop-up projects will be installed in the city centre in order to see whether these changes have a beneficial effect on the well-being of the people in the city. And of course because it’s fun and the installations might attract more people. For my internship I am now evaluating their first pop-up installation: A pop-up beach on Civic Square. A broken pool was turned into a sandpit, an ice cream stand was placed and heaps of colourful beach chairs were put in the square. From next week on you can find me at the beach to survey people’s opinion about it. With the nice spring weather we have here, I think I am going to enjoy this part of my job a lot.