Sarah McKenzie

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It is an ethical responsibility for designers to ensure the needs of people and society are being met. Recent circumstances have impacted our way of life - especially how we socialise. As people are forced to physically distance right now, it has emphasised the need for high quality social spaces for when life is back to normal. Although this is a site-specific design within Perth, the principles and lessons can be used elsewhere to allow other cities to improve their public realm. Flipping the hierarchy to having people on top creates a set of requirements which Perth does not fulfil as it is currently being led by design for cars. This paper will explore how architecture and urban design can influence everyday events, and through carefully considered decisions, encourage social interactions between people. By creating spaces which are exciting, inviting and accessible for everyone, the health and wellbeing within the city will improve and make it more liveable.

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Murray Square is a place which encourages social interaction and “play” for people of all ages, interests, and abilities. Having such a vibrant and flexible space within Perth gives a sense of ownership, pride, and identity to the city. This is done by creating 3 unique pavilions which connect to an exciting, inviting, and accessible square.


Spatial impacts within the city
Each pavilion links back to Murray Square and creates a connection to the wider city. All 3 of the pavilions have their own identity but are still clearly connected through their materials. These have been carefully selected to show off Perth’s unique identity of being surrounded by natural landscaping and to show off traditional building methods.

Social impacts within the city
The pavilions have an element of play within them. From the automated bike parking in pavilion 1 to the tunnels which link the street to the park in pavilion 3. Creating places which have a use, but also an element of fun increases the chances of people using them and therefore maximising the potential for social interaction.

Murray Square

Creating excitement through the pavilions is only part of the components which make a successful public space. They must also be accessible and inviting for all.

The hierarchy of priority has placed pedestrians on the top and vehicles on the bottom. This allowed for a detailed groundscape plan to be designed by using local materials. The placement of the paving, colour, texture, and size of the stones have all been considered to ensure people have priority without restricting vehicle access into areas.

The urban furniture has been designed and placed to create a square for people to socialise. An example of this is the linear seating with limited breaks to encourages people to sit with each other and talk.

Murray Square shows how a successful public space in Scotland should be and how we can encourage social connections through design.

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