- The street edge design provides safety for both sides of the boundary, privacy for the development’s occupants and activity towards the public realm
There is some degree of conflict between the goals of safety, activity and privacy when designing for the public/private interface at the street edge. The street is a safer, more interesting place for pedestrians when the building actively fronts the street, (for example, by having windows on the ground floor), but ultimately some types of activity require a level of privacy that precludes high levels of transparency or interaction between the building/site and the public realm.
Architectural elements can be incorporated into the facade so that a building 'reaches out' to the street. Views into a building provide interest to passers-by and make its function apparent, while views out contribute to safety by putting ‘eyes onto the street’. Windows imply the presence of others, which adds perceived and actual safety. Using public street-side space for informal activities (such as restaurants and cafe tables on the footpath) can add vitality to a place.
Ground floor residential units offer the potential for direct access from the street and the provision of private landscaped outdoor areas. Ground floor residential units improve choice and flexibility by offering easily accessible housing to the elderly, disabled, and families with small children, and by allowing activities such as gardening, outdoor play and pet ownership. They also allow the building and its landscaping to respond to the streetscape and public domain at a more human scale. Because it is often difficult to ensure privacy in ground floor apartments, it may be wise to select a non-residential use for ground floor spaces in buildings that front directly onto the street.