Kildare Town Market Square - how it could look as a rejuvenated urban space.
Kildare Town Market Square as it is now.
At the outskirts of Kildare Town lies Kildare Village. Kildare Village is not really a village, it is a commercial entity of designer outlet shops - a pseudo village - designed as small pedestrianised streets surrounded by Scandinavian looking timber houses, home to the international designer shops.
Kildare Village's urban shopping street has an intrinsically landscaped urban environment with detailed displays of art, planting and seating. It has the same attention to detail as any interior commercial space and the car parking area has been limited to 'outside the village' creating a safe walkable environment.
It is clear that the retailers are funding this space because they understand the benefit of these pedestrianised streets, how they attract customers and are a significant part of a positive shopping experience.
It would be great if there was the same recognition of the economic and social benefits of actual public urban spaces in towns and villages as in Kildare Village.
The Kildare Village streetscape design would unfortunately not be allowable in today's public space. Concerns for the longevity, the durability, the funding and anti-social behaviour would stop this type of design in a local community.
Not far from Kildare Village is Kildare Towns historic Market Square. Once the central gathering point and commercial space of Kildare Town it now mainly functions as a parking area.
Cars dominate the Market Square and makes it uncomfortable and unsafe to walk around always depending on slow traffic lights to cross the roads. This type of close proximity parking gives the local shops and restaurants a sense that their customers are being provided for, however studies show that shops and restaurants on walkable and cyclable streets without car dominance increase their turnover significantly and retail and communities based around these types os spaces thrive both economically and socially.
Clonakilty in West Cork rejuvenated itself through enhanced urban spaces and public squares and was recently named the best town in Ireland.
I wonder what would happen if the same amount of attention and funding would be given to the Market Square of Kildare Town as to the urban spaces within the commercial Kildare Village?
Local towns and villages are struggling because they have been taken over by our car dependency, but it might be time that we start designing them just as cleverly and with the same amount of funding as a commercial urban space like Kildare Village.