Pontevedra is located in the northwest region Galica in Spain, and was like many other western cities flooded by cars during the second half of the 20th century. By the end of the 1990s about 52.000 vehicles circulated in the city every day. This changed as Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, head of a leftist political party, became the mayor of Pontevedra. Lores intended to give the streets back to the people and to pedestrianize the city.
The neighbourhood "Ginneken" in Breda (near Tilburg) in the South of the Netherlands is a residential area with quite a lot of green space around (the Mastbosch, the oldest cultivated forest in the country). Ginneken (5000 inhabitants; Breda 200.000 inhabitants) has quite a strong neighbourhood community with lots of activities that are being organised, either planned or spontaneously. One of the residents had taken initiative to start a neighbourhood garden in an unused part of the public space. In the public space they grow vegetables together.
Neighbourhoods and cities are usually planned from a grown-up’s perspective. Children have different needs towards their surroundings. The guideline “Auf Augenhöhe 1,20m” (“at eye level 1,20m”, i.e. at a child’s eye level) developed by the canton Basel-Stadt provides inputs for the conception, planning, implementation and operating of child-friendly spaces in the children’s living environment.
The city of Rorschach participated in a federal programme with the aim of creating attractive public spaces and strengthening the social cohesion in one neighbourhood. The creation of a neighbourhood office and a neighbourhood meeting point as well as the transformation of two streets into encounter zones proved very successful. The residents of the neighbourhood developed a sense of affiliation, ownership and solidarity.
Because of a new community initiative in Mumbai the citizens get the chance to reclaim public spaces which are occupied by cars, motorcycles, hawkers and illegal encroachments. On Sundays there are no cars allowed on one 6.5 km stretch to the north of the old centre of the city between 7 and 11am. The local people come out on the streets and claim the street with bikes, skateboards, yoga mats and footballs. Moreover the children have the opportunity to play outside and the seniors can enjoy some board games.
In 1994 Jan Gehl worked with Melbourne City Council to analyse the challenges and potential of the city centre, because Melbourne had no public squares and a low quality of social life. With the help of Public Space/Public Life surveys Gehl could measure people-oriented indicators like how and where people walk and spend time, and what else they do in public spaces at different times of the day and week. Based on Jan Gehl’s findings, Melbourne’s city agencies worked over the next decade to achieve an impressive number of urban improvements.