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Usable public space

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Usable public space is an important aspect of urban planning and Urban design, especially in those with a focus on sustainability, such as transit-oriented development and New Urbanism.

Public space, being shared, does not have to be as expansive as providing the same functionality or experience through private space. The benefits are:

  • lower cost (less use of land)
  • allows higher population density, which reduces travel distance, allowing more walking and cycling, and provides a larger customer base for public transport.
  • better facilities due to shared cost
  • more social

To allow privacy when desired, a mix may be planned for, e.g. in cohousing, where a smaller amount of private space is in each dwelling, but a larger amount is shared by the community..


To satisfy building codes, some developers use large areas of landscaping. This is not usable space - children cannot play there, the community cannot garden there, and the lawn cannot be used for sitting, walking or playing.

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