From Broad Street to Broad Meadow, Oxford
Testing for the future: throughout the summer, the temporary space was used to host an extensive programme of community events and it has been extended to accommodate the annual Arts Market during Autumn. Oxford City Council have been consulting the public on their views about the initiative and whether Broad Street has the potential to become permanently pedestrianised.
Space for play: the removal of vehicles and introduction of floorspace artwork by Bryony Benge-Abbott has created simple, safe and attractive play zones for children.
Edges: car parking spaces have been reclaimed for outdoor seating areas associated with nearby cafés, to create a more animated edge to the public space.
Urban greening: the typically hard, asphalted character of Broad Street has been softened through various forms of urban greening including the planting of young trees, the introduction of wildflower meadows and a sequence of grass lawns. Raised beds are arranged in an informal manner throughout the street, creating varied pockets of space for children to climb, explore and play, and for adults to gather and chat.
Movement: despite the changes to reduce the dominance of vehicles and create more space for pedestrians, Broad Street has retained access for bicycles with a two-way cycle route through the scheme, encouraging permeability through the area.
Reuse: the Council prioritised using local suppliers and recycled materials, and is working on reuse plans for the furniture and as much of the infrastructure as possible. The space features wooden seating and planters made from pallets used to transport vaccines and medical equipment during the pandemic.
A wide historic street and car park has been transformed into a temporary park in the city centre, one of the city’s largest public spaces.
In each issue of Behind the Image, one of our contributors visits a contemporary public space from around the world. The photography tries to reveal an alternative perspective on a familiar precedent, famous space or place. These images illustrate how the public space works in practice: exploring its features (designed and unintended), and the way it relates to the surrounding context.