Returning from a summer vacation in Europe, I understood that adding more economists or lawyers is not enough to make Ukraine a better place to live. Instead, the country needs better and more empowered urban designers to make public spaces more comfortable, accessible and open.
Europe’s streets, squares and parks are designed for the people. They are full of life and attract crowds. Most importantly, they are a testament to different way of thinking, where the comfort of citizens is the utmost goal.
Don’t get me wrong. Ukraine has plenty of parks, town squares and open spaces. But they mainly function as stages to monuments rather than places for people to enjoy life. Rarely are they closed off for traffic so citizens can quietly sip their coffee, more often being clogged with cars and smog.
Effective use of public space determines quality of life. It can aid communication and build communities. It’s what makes Europe European.