Elena Piha


This text is about making public space out of and within the omnipresent entirety of space which is the defining circumstance of the macrocosm that holds us and that we inhabit. It begins with a propositional discourse on how that omnipresent space differentiates into public space and further articulates into human places. It concludes with a comparative précis of eight actual projects for public space as programmed, designed, realised and adopted for different purposes in the different socio-cultural and geo-locational situations of five established cities. The focus is on similarity and difference, or how social demands, human aspirations and design rationales for public space might depend on their originating context. It is also more about socio-cultural constants from which design approaches or, better, attitudes arise than the socio-political, economic or otherwise practical variables of procurement and implementation of public space, which are fleeting and fluctuate by time, government, and popular opinion.
The text is organised in sections, which form a collage of things that matter in making public space in the contemporary world which is essentially defined by the contemporary urban condition where global interconnectedness—networks and inclusiveness—negotiates with site-specific differentiation—otherness and exclusiveness. The order of the text is from general to particular, abstract to concrete, so as to set the subject matter in the context of the larger whole it belongs to.


How to Cite
Piha, E. (2017) “Making public space. About the same or about difference?”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(2), pp. 145–180. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i2.100.
Author Biography

Elena Piha, Queensland University of Technology

Helena Piha is a free-thinking, landscape architect, urbanist and free-lance sessional academic.
She holds a PhD from Deakin University, School of Architecture Geelong VIC Australia and a M.Arch. from Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology in Finland.
She worked with her own practice Helsinki Finland (11 years) and Melbourne/Brisbane Australia (14+years) and has been employed at the City of Helsinki Finland as Landscape Architect; at the City of Sydney NSW as Urban Design Architect/Planner; at the City of Melbourne VIC‚ as Coordinator of Urban Design and A/Manager Design; at the Government of Victoria and Arup Brisbane as Senior Urban Designer; at the South Bank Corporation Brisbane QLD as Planning Coordinator; at HBA+EMBT Brisbane QLD as Associate Director. Also, at the academic level she worked at the Helsinki/Aalto University of Technology and Tampere University of Technology in Finland as Lecturer/Course Coordinator; at the University of Melbourne & RMIT University VIC & QUT Brisbane QLD as Lecturer/Tutor.
She is member of AIA Australian Institute of Architects 2000; AILA Registered Landscape Architect 2009; RAIA Registered Architect VIC 2000–2005; MARK Finnish Association of Landscape Architects 1981; SAFA Finnish Association of Architects 1981–2013.
She held several positions of trust: 2007 MARK Representative, EFLA General Assembly, Brussels Belgium; 2005 MARK Member, Executive Board, Finland; 1999–2005 Member, Expert Committee UNESCO Urban Design and Education Programme, Monash University VIC; 1988 Member, SAFA Committee of Trust, Finland; 1988 Member, MARK Professional Fees Working Group, Finland.
She has been involved in multiple design competitions: 2011, 2010, 2009 RAIA QLD Awards; 2005 Finnoontie Environmental Art Competition, MARK Finland; 2005 Expert Juror Helsinki West Harbour Park International Design Competition, MARK Finland; 2002,2003 AILA VIC Awards; 1986–87 Kotakennää Ideas Competition, SAFA Finland.