The Project for Public Spaces has been a mayor influence on the Keskuskelupuisto project. This New York based Non-Profit organisation has been dedicated to the question: what makes a good public space? How does it evolve? Their work is based on and extends the pioneering urban research by William Whyte and Jane Jacobs. Whyte studied human behaviour in urban settings. He published several books on the topic, including “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”. The book and film summarizes the findings of the Street Life Project, where Whyte and rsearch assitants conducted observations and film analyses of corporate plazas, urban streets, parks, and other open spaces in New York City. Whyte advocated for a new way of designing public spaces – one that was bottom-up, not top-down. Using his approach, design should start with a thorough understanding of the way people use spaces, and the way they would like to use spaces. Whyte noted that people vote with their feet – they use spaces that are easy to use, that are comfortable. They don’t use the spaces that are not. Whyte wrote that the social life in public spaces contributes fundamentally to the quality of life of individuals and society as a whole.Jane Jacobs was an urban planning activist. She wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” – still an influential book in the field of city planning. Jacobs contested the traditional planning approach that relies on the judgment of outside experts, proposing that local expertise is better suited to guiding community development.

The Project for Public Spaces website has many insightful resources, for example on public parks. We found their info graphic on “What Makes a Succesful Place” very useful.