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News Public spaces captured by time-lapse

7 October 2020 Kate

Public spaces have taken on even greater importance as the current crisis has reinforced the vital role that they play in bringing people together and promoting wellbeing. With this newfound appreciation for the outdoors, now seems a good time to focus on the need for public spaces and how time-lapse photography can effectively document such developments.

The Pandemic and Public Spaces

Due to the pandemic, urban life changed dramatically overnight. Cities around the world had to respond quickly to the unique circumstances and improve and increase outdoor space where possible. Existing parks were used more than ever, and under-used public areas spruced up to create appealing outdoor areas.  

Neighbourhoods temporarily pedestrianised some streets to create local useable outdoor space for children to play in and for others to socialise. This idea of improving the pedestrian and people’s experience has taken root and could mark a long-term change in urban planning.

The importance of public spaces
Temporarily pedestrianised street

In response to the pandemic, the public and businesses have had to reclaim public spaces. Restaurants, cafes, and shops have had to make use of the available outdoor space to allow for socially distancing – turning pavements and parking spaces into appealing outdoor terraces. Local business owners have requested for streets to be pedestrianised with the aim of enticing customers. In Milan, parking spaces have also been turned into “parklets” – mini outdoor spaces to attract people to socialise in neighbourhoods and to increase commercial activity.

The importance of public spaces captured by time-lapse
Outdoor restaurant terrace

Enclosed public transport is not an attractive option with Covid-19, however private car use is also not to be encouraged. The public needs improved walking, cycling, and scooter routes to entice them back out. Around the world, and in London, solutions have been found, such as temporarily widening pavements and dramatically increasing cycle routes.

Increased cycle lanes

Creative ideas have also abounded – in White City, for example, the pedestrian crossing has been vibrantly redesigned by artist Camille Walala to add to the appeal of the outdoors.

The ongoing Importance of Outdoor Spaces.

Outdoor urban spaces such as squares, plazas and parks are nothing new and have been around since ancient times. An open space has so many different uses – for playing, for a moment of peace, for exercising, for debate, or a sense of community. It has proved vital for human wellbeing and due to this, urban public space will continue to be improved and developed. Its importance has been reinforced by the UN-Habitat Global Public Space Programme being founded in 2012. It states: “Public space is crucial for sustainable cities and communities: providing ecosystem services, improving health and wellbeing, ensuring social inclusion and economic exchange.”

A good example of how a city can be transformed by improved public spaces can be seen in the regeneration of Hull’s city centre. One of the UK’s largest and most ambitious public realm schemes was brought about by Hull winning the UK City of Culture 2017 initiative. The city realised the importance of improving public spaces as part of its regeneration. By creating functional and flexible pedestrianised spaces and four new public squares, different areas of the city became connected and more user friendly.

Humber Street at night.
Pedestrianised Humber Street, Hull

To publicise and promote such an ambitious project, our camera systems were used by Hull council and Eurovia to capture these developments. Our camera systems were positioned at key locations in the city centre. Throughout the scheme, periodic time-lapse edits were produced so the local authority could visually demonstrate how works were progressing.

Our time-lapse photography captured the transformation of Humber Street ‘Britain’s best street’ as it became completely refurbished and pedestrianised into an attractive destination to visit. In the Queens Gardens, our footage of Solar Gate, a £310,000 bespoke timepiece sculpture being installed was edited into a short video to mark the event.

Solar Gate installation at Queens Gardens, Hull

Our time-lapse work also captured the city integrating culture further into public spaces through the installations of the Blade in Queen Victoria Square and the ceramic Weeping Window poppies at Hull Maritime Museum. Hull made sure these installations were accessible to all and were used as a focal point in a public spaces.

Weeping Window Poppies installation in Hull

Elsewhere in the UK’s public realm, we have time-lapsed works and projects undertaken for other local authorities. Public spaces and squares are used by communities and groups to come together, be it to celebrate or to express their opinions. Ipswich Town Council realised the importance of a useable and attractive public space, investing to improve Cornhill so that people could enjoy and gather in the town centre square.

Redevelopment of Cornhill, Ipswich

Public Spaces in Urban Developments

Public spaces are not just confined to being created through public money. A huge selling point for new urban developments is the imaginative public spaces and green outdoor areas they provide. For example a new project in Central London, the Broadgate campus is a vertical campus that is set to become the largest pedestrian neighbourhood in the capital. This emphasis on well-designed pedestrian and public spaces shows the growing importance of outdoor urban areas, and how they connect buildings and the local area.

The importance of public space in developments is echoed at the urban regeneration project of Wellington Place in Leeds. With numerous buildings housing offices, a hotel, restaurants and retail units, they are all surrounded by outdoor terraces and landscaped gardens.  Urban developers have realised the importance now placed on outdoor space, as Wellington Place states  “We’ve created a healthy space to work in the heart of the city ….Green space has been proven to reduce brain fatigue, so we’ve added a park, a fruit tree orchard and urban gardens.” 

Wellington Square development, Leeds

So whether used by developers to showcase how public spaces are integrated into their projects or by public bodies such as local authorities to promote urban improvements to the public, time-lapse photography has the flexibility to deliver the high-quality results required.

As the UK’s leading time-lapse video company, we have the expertise and know-how to produce public realm time-lapse videos to high specification requirements. Please contact us for more details and to discuss your next project.

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