Public Realm and Engagement: Facilitating Possibilities and Animating Places
Projects have socially engaged design processes at their heart, bringing life to neglected, run-down high streets and squares in need of rejuvenation. Particularly in London, public realm projects, such as these over the following pages, came to a head with the Olympic Games in 2012 and centred around the capital’s peripheral high streets, with their concentrations of empty shops and deserted civic spaces. Public realm projects and community engagement allow more immediate, human-scale action in areas undergoing deep-rooted, permanent change. It helps communities to come to terms with processes that are out of their control. In many cases, creative, tailor-made solutions can help shift perceptions and transform public spaces into much-loved local assets. And as shown in the interviews that follow, rather than developing into permanent solutions, these temporary – or rather participatory – projects test ideas and, ultimately, animate and activate places.