Consistent implementation of the "Shared Space" approach

Consistent implementation of the "Shared Space" approach

Jun 2017

For many years now, more and more European cities have designed selected traffic zones according to the “shared space” principle. The idea behind this is to completely reshape how traffic moves through our urban spaces. Wherever possible, stop lights, signage and road markings are dispensed with completely. The aim is to encourage, without the imposition of restrictive rules, a voluntary change in the behavior of everyone using our public space. At the same time, all road users are to enjoy equal rights. In November 2005, for example, an urban object in the form of a “city lounge” covering several hundred square meters and based on the ideas of artist Pipilotti Rist and architect Carlos Martinez was opened in St. Gallen in Switzerland. On this space, which has since become known as “Red Square”, pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and cars – and sometimes even delivery vans and trucks – all share the road; the square also features “relaxation zones” with various items of furniture, all in red. It’s hard to imagine how the “shared space” concept could be implemented more consistently and in a more eye-catching manner.

Promenades like “Red Square” were incorporated in the Swiss Road Traffic Act as “encounter zones” back in 2002. Since then, several hundred roads and squares in Switzerland have been modified on the basis of this successful model and similar concepts have since been introduced in France and Belgium.