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Breaking Boundaries - The Ashford Ring Road

Shared Space

Extracted from the website:

Shared Space encapsulates a new philosophy and set of principles for the design, management and maintenance of streets and public spaces, based on the integration of traffic with other forms of human activity.

Shared Space views public spaces first and foremost as spaces for people. Public spaces should facilitate people’s activities – not restrict them. The design and layout of public spaces should therefore do justice to the various functions and meanings these spaces have for people. The traffic function, which has characterised the space in terms of layout for the last decades, then becomes an equal of the other functions.

The most recognisable characteristic of shared space is the absence of conventional traffic signals, signs, road markings, humps and barriers - all the clutter essential to the highway. The driver in shared space becomes an integral part of the social and cultural context, and behaviour (such as speed) is controlled by everyday norms of behaviour.

Shared Space implies more than simple design techniques. It also requires an innovative approach to the process of planning, designing and decision-making. New structures for municipal organisation and public involvement are the result.

Shared space offers a basis for addressing safety issues, for overcoming community severance, for tackling congestion and for enhancing economic vitality in streets and public spaces. Developed and refined by pioneers such as Hans Monderman (the head of the Shared Space expert team) and Ben Hamilton - Baillie in the UK, shared space projects are evident in most European countries.

Currently seven European partners from five countries are sharing knowledge on shared space, including the Dutch authorities of Emmen, Haren and the Province of Friesland, Oostende in Belgium, Bohmte in Germany, Ejby in Denmark and Suffolk County Council in the UK. The project is co-financed by the European Interreg IIIB North Sea Programme.

Other examples of projects in the UK where the Shared Space concept is being applied include Ashford Ring Road, and High St Kensington in London.

The Shared Space website, along with the site of Hamiton Baillie Associates ( offer a huge range of links and information about the scheme.

Further information

Download a recent publication from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment about shared space, ‘Civilised Streets’: