How to Handle Installations in Public Urban Space
Keywords:landscape architecture, commercial use, non-commercial use, installations, public space, regulation, policy, guidelines
In cities of increasing density, public space is under pressure from both commercial and non-commercial interests. Private installations in public space, such as kiosks, pavement cafes, advertising, and parklets, influence its usability and appearance. Based on the assumption that such installations can also alter and define the inclusiveness and accessibility of public space, the authors argue that the process of granting permission for and regulating the design and positioning of such installations is not only an administrative decision but one that is connected with planning strategies and political considerations. This article presents the theoretical background and the ensuing guidelines for a consultancy study for the administration of the city of Vienna. Showcasing a variety of case studies, we discuss the impact of installations on the surrounding public space and develop criteria for their regulation and authorisation in three thematic layers, covering the social, spatial, and design aspects of a submission. The innovative social layer formulates a premise and raises the question: Does the general public benefit from this installation? With this in mind, the authors transform political agendas, policies, and strategic planning goals into a pragmatic toolset, aiming to support the fair and balanced use of public space. The results of the study have already been integrated into a new set of guidelines entitled ‘Thematic Concept: Public Space’, which is part of Vienna’s Urban Development Plan ‘STEP2025’. The guidelines are to be actively applied by the city administration in the future assessment of usage requests for commercial and non-commercial installations in public space.