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Barbara Golicnik Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh College of Art Abstract
This paper focuses on the relationship between the two attributes of the public realm: the physical spatial characteristics of the place itself and the dynamic of use. The examined relationship between public spaces such as parks and squares in town centres and activities within them is shown on the maps based on the GIS-supported databases, which were created upon the data, originally carried out manually using an observation and behavioural mapping technique. Addressing both spatial-usage characteristics of places and their conduciveness to occupancy, parks are discussed at a general level while squares are explored in more detail. A reflection on conduciveness of places from designers’ perspectives concludes the paper with some brief comments on some of the results from the workshops undertaken by urban landscape designers, dealing with spatial-usage relationship in the case of one particular square.
Keywords: Urban landscape design; parks; squares; usage; diversity 1. Introduction The paper is concerned with empirical values rather than with pure theoretical issues in the field of urban landscape design. According to Carmona et al (2003), urban design, recognised as a means of manipulating the probabilities of certain actions or behaviours, should be an activity that provides people with choices rather than denying them choice. As such, it reflects the provision of opportunity and management of use (Carmona et al, 2003) and involves urban designers as professionals who can master increasing space potential to create a meaningful, significant and desirable place. Discussing the environmental opportunities and peoples’ choices, Gans (1968) distinguishes the potential and the effective environments. He recognises a potential environment, which is proposed by the planner and provides a range of environmental opportunities; and an effective environment, which derives from the potential environment, created and determined by what people actually do within it. Addressing both terms, Anderson (1986) distinguishes potential environment as the physical environment; an arena for potential actions and interpretations as it exists at any point in time, which is characterised by limits of activity and significance. An effective environment, named influential, is defined as the realised potential environment, manifested in two options: exploited potential and recognised but unexploited potential. It is that version of the potential environment which is manifestly or implicitly adopted by users, and thus represents the actually observed pattern of use and meaning. The unrealised potential environment is defined as latent environment and is recognised as that version of the potential environment which supplements the influential. It consists of the environmental possibilities not currently being exploited. On these bases, guiding the discussion towards an account of the form, use and significance of the physical environment, Anderson (1986) addresses robustness and resilience as domains of the above defined environments. Robustness is seen as the extent of the potential in the
Carmona et al (2003) recognise robustness. time of week of occupancy. Comprehensive workshops with urban landscape designers close the series of examinations of public open spaces. taking place in several squares and parks in the centres of two European towns. become important. as the materialisation of ‘public’ and ‘space’. . age. Both ‘use’ (‘people’) and ‘form’ (‘place’). It continues with the digitalisation (re-mapping) of the original data using GIS and on this basis builds up an empirical knowledge visualised on maps. potential behavioural patterns in urban settings. ‘passive’ and ‘intermittent’. Although places are unique and distinctive. the final categorisation of patterns of uses is based on the interaction between time-occupation represented by three different categories of ‘continuously present’. while resilience is seen as the degree of latency together with the recognised but unexploited potential within the influential environment. are the essential and interdependent components of any public space. there is a challenge to elucidate and represent the physicality of spaces with a spatiality of usage. their inner structure of the ‘effective’ environment. ‘temporarily present’ and ‘in transit’. Developing Anderson’s arguments further. or any general vertical or horizontal articulation. and the notion of design and its relation to conduciveness of places. Focusing on exploring designers’ convictions/beliefs and experiences in relation to the nature of public space use they address validity. for example. within the timeframe of one month for each. match some usual terms of spatial analysis and very basic elements of spatial definitions such as soft/hard surface. Its advanced level shows results arising from statistical analysis and calculations. Edinburgh and Ljubljana. as a function of the relationship between ‘form’ and the ‘uses’ it accommodates.physical environment. movement direction and weather conditions at the presence of the activity. Bearing this in mind. A social component of that public space is understood as its ‘daily dynamic pattern of users’. The most sophisticated level of this empirical knowledge shows generated results arising from maps as graphical sources of locations and dimensions of the behaviours/uses. Public space is an inseparable entity of a two-way process between both the components: ‘people’ and ‘place’. time of day of occupancy. which. and moreover. gender. Although the observed uses are quite diverse. On the basic level. boundary. A comprehensive behavioural map showing a place’s occupancy in a particular temporal frame is a source of such information. It usually contains a range of different uses. they have some characteristics in common. ‘place’s form and its main articulation’ represent the spatial component of an urban open public space. However. In this paper. participation of users engaged in any one activity and their intensity of use. nature of the spatial-temporal involvement of activity and the like. the values of rates of use. when the goal of urban design is understood as providing potential places for social inclusion. understanding of implementation of gained empirical knowledge. edge. This refers to a general physical layout of a place such as a square or a park. duration of activity. in general. they share some characteristics and aspects of occupancy. to know about potential behavioural patterns in urban settings and talk about the physicality of spaces using the language of patterns of use(r)s. The series of methods and techniques that enabled the examination of public spaces starts with observation and behavioural mapping. and the way of involvement described as ‘active’. and from sitting or walking to skateboarding in a square. corner. through the method of abstraction. exemplified by a span of activities from walking to climbing a tree in a park. Thus. elevation. it provides different original information about uses such as type of activity.
reflect usage ability of a place and in this way address its spatial capacity. and walking dogs. Commenting on social inclusion. invite the same type of users. the interaction between people in transit through the place and skateboarders happened mainly in skateboarders’ supplementary spaces of their actions.2. which ensures that the sunken platform. Physical traces of actual activities represented as graphical information on the map elucidate the inner structure of the ‘effective’ space. The actual engagement at the same time is also constant in both the places but differs in terms of the number of active participants. playing volleyball. are essential elements that attract skateboarders but this merged flat area is crucial to enable their ‘actual’ use. sitting. Bristo Square (Edinburgh) is a squared. enclosed space with no ramps. in which greatest diversity of uses is reached with activities happening once or twice only. jogging. the capacity of the supplementary space. One example consists of parks such as the Meadows. is in both the squares built upon the usual everyday activities such as walking. for example climbing a tree. bikes and the like. attached to the surroundings with steps and ramps. The open side borders on a car parking area. Princes Street Gardens and the Tivoli Park. The similar number of skateboarders in each of the two squares shows that both the towns share a level of interest in that activity. prams. this certain articulation in itself does not ensure optimal use. walking children and pushing baby-carriages. while in the case of Ljubljana it did so in the areas of the actual events themselves (event spaces). but is attached to the spatial frame. Accordingly. In contrast to the situation in Edinburgh. flying a kite. of which the majority happened very often. which is carried out quite often. their overall physical layout and spatial context differ from each other. and through some elements of spatial definition. badminton. this available space which actually enables the complete activity to happen fully. which merge into a flat platform. making art exhibitions and the like rather than usual activities such as walking. in Ljubljana sometimes more than half of the skateboarders sat out for longer and observed the others. In Edinburgh. the presence of greatest diversities of uses and/or of specific uses in public spaces is relevant. What Are the Physical Characteristics of the Settings Where These Interesting Behavioural Patterns Happened? The examined cases show that steps. sitting. is accessible by wheelchairs. This is reflected in the ways of spatial occupation and co-habitation of users. baseball. shape and vertical articulation of the available space are of key importance. the core of the place. In this particular case. What Are Interesting Behavioural Patterns? Where Are They? The examination has identified five significant groups of the ways in which activities took place within all the examined places. cycling. skateboarding. in the square of Ljubljana was simply not big enough to support skateboarders’ complete active involvement. Neither place was planned as a skateboarders’ platform but a certain articulation of those places stimulates these users to be there and use it for their pastime. too. two groups are examined in more detail. It concerns specific activities. Although both the examined squares serve as representative places in town centres. as mentioned above. The equipment . 3. consisting of two squares. One platform has a built frame along both the longest sides. The greatest diversity of uses in the other group. performing street theatre. However. being much higher in the case of Edinburgh. standing and cycling. The Trg Republike (Ljubljana) consists of two sub-positioned longitudinal platforms. The situation is additionally enriched with the presence of a specific use. the other along one side only. The size. Trg Republike and Bristo Square.
Passive activities such as lying down and sitting are often seen along the edges and within broader peripheral zones. The areas of cumulative intensity consisting then of either passive or active activities of different extents and sizes are significant for the areas in the wings away from the main promenade of the park. Overall assembly maps of behavioural patterns in the Meadows show that rare but contributory activities to the enhancement of the diversity of uses in the park share locations of appearance with other. It is the narrowest but the most articulated part of the whole square. peripheries to central areas. which skateboarders brought to the stage. It invites as many active as passive users. rarely in the centres. either in . but occasionally encroach on centres of the green voids. users themselves structure the resilience of the potential environment to become effective for one or more of them. too. In parks. people in transition through the place and skateboarders take places from boundaries between edges and periphery. the intensity of occupancy is increased at the periphery between articulated edge and the area that is off one of the most used lines for passing by. too. Passive uses such as sitting and standing are usually concentrated along the volume of edges. Bigger groups usually take places in corners. more frequent activities. Where voids are larger and the physical limits are further apart. evokes latent environments. effective environments are easily recognised and realised. A cumulative intensity of occupancy in the square of Ljubljana concentrates in the node between both the platforms. places of implicit limits. When evoking latent environment for skateboarding. Active participants such as football and frisbee players most often take places in these broad peripheries. Active users. Three significant zones of cumulative intensities were noticed in Bristo Square in Edinburgh. The Meadows in Edinburgh has such spatial characteristics. distinguishing skateboarders from the rest of users in Bristo Square ( Map 1) and the Trg Republike (Map 2) Parks are often considered as negative or soft spaces.such as boxing and some other light structures. where physical limits are well defined consequentially. while individuals and small groups are scattered along the edges. Overall assembly behavioural maps of spatial occupancy. Map 1 Map 2 Figure 1.
It might bring additional insights. 4. It refers to addressing ‘possibilities’ for usage ability of a place and ‘probabilities’ of spatial capacity of a place and thus reflects spatial potentials for occupancy. About one fourth of this majority (26 per cent) do not recognise any other activities but transitory ones. Every activity people carry out within public open space takes place in a particular place. Key Concluding Points • Many spatial forms are relatively adaptable and can be accommodated within a variety of patterns of users but their conduciveness to usage is limited by both physical dimensions and articulation of places. conduciveness of places to usage inclusion relates to available supplementary spaces for the activities carried out in a place. The physical spatial capacity and the usage ability of the occupancy of a place act as common denominators in the relationship between places and their occupancies. Nevertheless. Where Are the Role and the Notion of Design? Behavioural patterns show possibilities of occupancies in places. and dimensions which uses require for being satisfactorily carried out. The aspects of spatial-human dimensions elucidate the ‘anatomy’ of space and therefore make a critical reflection on designed public open spaces. From this point of view. The biggest majority (86 per cent) see this environment as a setting for passing by. organised in different ways in a complex physical setting. while designers’ drawings from the workshops show what they consider is likely to happen in a particular place and reflect the environmental probabilities of places. could become neutral or even non-facilitating for certain single or sympatric happenings in a place. might keep facilitating. In the other two examined parks. reflect spatial potential for occupancy. Fourteen per cent of all the participants have not recognised any particular type of activity in this particular part of a square. in addition to passive uses and engagements in passing by. However. features which are sometimes invisible. Nevertheless. About twice as many of them (43 per cent) see the node of both the platforms also as a potential environment for sitting or waiting. What matters is conduciveness of a place for occupancy. but potential. Designers’ beliefs and awareness about uses in a place such as Trg Republike in some aspects differ from actual happenings in the place. • The same elements of spatial definition. A discussion about different approaches and understandings of the environment-people interaction reflects the conviction that design matters. Thus. the relationship in location between frequent and rare activities is similar to the one found in the case of the Meadows. • Behavioural patterns differ from one place to another. Only 14 per cent of them. • The empirical knowledge about spatial-usage potentials of places is of key importance in urban design professions and has an important role in urban landscape design practice. and refer to conduciveness of a space to be used. passive users are in the majority. but not absolutely. the empirical knowledge suggests this anatomy of space expressed by behavioural patterns could provide an additional point of view in/of an inclusive design.corners or in the peripheral zones of inner boundaries and along the inner sides of outer edges of the park. validities and criteria for sustainable. behavioural patterns address usage ability and/or spatial capacity of a place. successful and all-inclusive town planning and design. They show hidden and embedded structures of places. Patterns of spatial occupancy seem like an x-ray of places. . activities form their own spaces and through them elucidate and shape places. recognise this articulated area between the platforms as an attractive place for skateboarders or roller-skaters.
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