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In urban design, a “shared space” is achieved by removing kerbs, traffic signs and road barriers so that pedestrians and vehicles have equal entitlement to the road. In the past, it was assumed that we needed to segregate vehicles and pedestrians for safety and efficiency, but the shared space idea shows that drivers slow down and are more careful when standard traffic cues (and hence the hierarchy of power) are removed.

This same idea has been explored in the past decade of office design. Increasingly, we are seeing offices such as Maddocks by Bates Smart embrace open communal spaces so that senior and junior staff can connect and collaborate. Co-working giant WeWork (its recent Martin Place and Pyrmont offices by TomMarkHenry are reviewed in this issue) works in the same way, despite its occupants sometimes hailing from disparate industries. By its very nature, the co-working model emphasizes community, flexibility and knowledge sharing and provides spaces to facilitate these.

Similarly, Woollahra Library by BVN, like all good libraries, creates a sense of community. There are, of course, designated zones for certain activities and noise levels, but the emphasis is on social learning and collaborative work. When we remove imposed structures in urban design, people are more courteous and careful. At Woollahra Library, with the removal of walls and the introduction of supersized voids that connect open levels, visitors are more mindful of others using the space.

These environments, through their respective shared kitchens, collaborative hubs and lounges,
all achieve what well-designed shared spaces strive for – an environment of generosity, mutual respect and a heightened regard for other users.

– Cassie Hansen, Editor, Artichoke

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