I Found the Perfect Public Space in Bogotá

Take a minute to think about public spaces such as parks, sidewalks or squares in your city — what annoys you most about them? It could be a lack of green space, parking cars obstructing your way, not enough space for more than two or three people to walk next to each other, or a general neglect in combination with waste. While this is too often the case, I want to present a perfect example for a successful public space in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, to show you that the opposite is possible!

Laura Puttkamer


As an urban planner, I always tick off a mental checklist when I visit a new city and walk around its public spaces. It goes somewhat like this:

- Am I enjoying the walk?
- Can I see green space?
- Can I sit down and rest and watch people?
- Is there shadow?
- Are there waste bins?
- How is the walkability for the disabled, people pushing a stroller or people in wheelchairs?
- Is the space nicely designed?

This concurs with what the experts say. For example, the Project for Public Space lists the following four key qualities that a good public space needs to have:

Recently, I was positively surprised by discovering the most perfect public space I have ever seen. I was on my way towards a meeting in Bogotá and walking through city center, when I stopped to admire this space, the Eje Ambiental (“environmental axis”).

The 2.8 km long pedestrian walkway takes over about 80% of the street. Some taxis and the Bus Rapid Transit system pass on the sides, but the priority is on pedestrians (finally!). In the center of the Eje Ambiental, there is a river, which provides a nice, fresh feeling and invites children, pets and curious…