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| and the evolution of its role
The complexity of the public urban space can be easily understood when listing the wide range of roles taken: physical. the public open spaces have always been crucial elements of the urban areas that contribute to quality of life on many different layers. iirina.com Abstract. This paper discusses the way public spaces are being given different uses over time. Urban development. ecological. human response 1. shopping centers. and the design of many public spaces has come to be more playful.The URBAN PUBLIC SPACE | and the evolution of its role IRINA CIOCAN Vienna Technical University of Technology. although we still think of them as “public spaces”.ciocan@gmail. The dimensions of the public urban space range from social services. public space. the following common trends can be subtracted: public spaces that were once clearly in the public domain are increasingly under private ownership and control. social. Introduction From ancient time until nowadays. often employing “theme parks”. 2. from the Agora and Forum to today‟s corporate plaza or shopping mall. economic. In doing so. health services and environmental services to economic benefits. it is important to define the roles of public realms within cities. The meaning of Public Space in the city framework The urban public space is a key ingredient of the city. to clarify why it is that their significance has increased drastically over the last decades and describe the current tendency in the design and revitalization of urban public spaces. psychological. and aesthetic. All this. with the purpose of providing useful guidelines for better urban design practice. . pedestrian streets and promenades). according to the way the city evolves and how people relate to it. political. Keywords. changing pattern. only by its presence can the private space be defined. festival sites. symbolic. breaking the connections with local history and geography. there is ever more surveillance of these public spaces for security reasons. and sports facilities) to civic spaces (landscaped plazas or public squares. play areas. From green spaces (parks and gardens.
regardless of gender.3. filtering noise and dust particles. race. market places and parks. boulevards and avenues make up the main communication channels of the city. public spaces help create ecologically healthy environments. 2. squares.Streets offer the opportunity to develop open spaces with both public and private use. plazas. Another important aspect of the public space which contributes to the upbringing of an individual is the social dimension. THE PHYSICAL ROLE The physical dimension can be determined if we consider the public spaces to be streets. by improving and stabilizing the micro-climate. age or socio-economic level. People are stimulated to react spontaneously and learn about the others. direct cooling down and cleansing breezes. The streets. For the psychological and mental health of human beings. both a patient‟s recovering time and the amount of analgesics needed are reduced if the room provides a view of trees. purifying air and water. THE PSYCHOGICAL ROLE Performing as places of relaxation. objects and information and also they serve the daily needs of the public on the street (street lights.2. meet challenges and take risks0. open spaces provide a certain rhythm of relaxation. They are the means of transportation for people.1. public spaces provide people with the relief from the stresses of daily life and contribute to the mental and psychological health of human beings in various forms. THE ECOLOGICAL ROLE By means of vegetation. 2. „a public space is a space such as a town square that is open and accessible to all.4. Social interaction. Recent studies prove that in post-operation cases. but they also can act as boosters in the process of individual development by providing arenas to demonstrate skills. „others‟ and „the environment‟.2. THE SOCIAL ROLE According to wikipwdia. promoted by the public space engages people in the discovery of the „self‟. ethnicity. urban furniture and public convenience facilities). leading to a sense of adaptation and personal continuity in a rapidly changing world. increasing air turbulence. 2. One of the earliest examples of public spaces are the .
ethnic origin. 2. THE ECONOMICAL ROLE All throughout history. public spaces can influence the economic value of the urban land which surrounds them. public spaces have been hosting commercial activities. such as sacred or symbolic meeting places. THE SYMBOLIC ROLE Public spaces have the power to provide the city its identity. THE POLITICAL ROLE Public spaces are open to all „freely chosen‟ and „spontaneous‟ action of people. regarding amenity and commerce and to market and regenerate localities. cultural. interact with others and represent themselves. A valid example of such spaces are those used for religious purposes.7. . 2. provide healthy contexts to resolve disagreements and conflicts (rather than keep them private) and serve to facilitate free society civility and public resolve. encouraging people to act freely. THE AESTHETIC ROLE Public spaces have the ability and function to beautify and provide unity to the overall appearance of the city. no fees or paid tickets are required for entry. if kept in good conditions.6. informative and communicative roles to strengthen public life and help form „the richest quality of a multi-class.commons.8. Public spaces tend to contain elements which represent „higher older values‟. nor are the entrants discriminated based on background‟. historical or political values for them. With their role as economic value generator. (Wikipedia 2011) Public spaces perform as arenas of social interaction and by bringing together people of different class. or maybe building facades. multi-cultural. For example. the image of which also encloses and belongs to the public space. gender and age they carry out educational. This way public spaces enable people to develop and promote democracy. representing religious. When thinking of a city. to improve and enhance its aesthetic quality. heterogeneous city‟. This way the public space becomes a symbol for a group of people or a society. public spaces have become crucial means to add value to speculative developments. 2. the first which come to mind are its streets and public squares.5. Also. 2.
2000 Another factor which led to the increased interest in public spaces is the so called „museumization of the culture‟ phenomenon. outdoor eating. this is the product of a growing interest. with the consequence that some cities have been turned into „world cities‟. human-scale attractive environment. The Recent Increased Significance of Public Spaces The interest in public urban spaces debuted with Le Corbusier‟s principles on urban planning. 1993 The increasing significance of public spaces seems to be the result of the demand of certain segments of the population (employees of the service sector. playgrounds and other central spaces. Therefore came the necessity to revive older parks. galleries and open public spaces. public spaces have been promoted to ameliorate the tension and anxiety caused by the social polarization and fragmentation. This meant that the object was once again the public realm. „astonishing‟ are characterized by their exclusivity and affluence. presenting a self-referential pattern and being fragmented from . public spaces have also started to be used as elements which are meant to bring unity amongst the social classes. Globalization is responsible for the drastic change in the urban landscape of the so called „world cities‟. published in the document entitled „The Athens Charter‟ 1943. which militated towards reintegrating nature in the city and creating green leisure spaces. colorful. particularly popular amongst tourists. The prior stated are catalysts for the recent concern with public spaces. street vending. 1987 Another theory is that the new interest taken in urban public spaces comes from the revitalization of street activities. in museums.3. whereas some other cities which used to be prosperous have suffered economic decline. With the arrival of multinational companies and institutions the economies of most countries have been incorporated in a global capitalist economy. In this case. but the major generator stands to be globalization. which have demanded new open spaces for sports and fitness and the provision of access to nature close to the living and working places. realm which had to be an organic. and make them safe places. „spectacular‟. However. rather than the buildings themselves. In the early 1980s the urban planning tendency was to reject the Modernist philosophy and embrace once again the spirit of urbanism that characterized traditional towns and cities. cycling. tourists). walking. such as performing. World cities are cities which were specialized in service and technology-based activities. whose centers often described as „glorious‟. The social class segregation (which inevitably has led to its spatial expression) is a phenomenon generated by the transition from an industrial economy to a service economy.
are characterized by the strong emphasis on their economic. losing their authentic image and erasing the fading memory of their distinctive social. and increasing use of design themes that employ “theme park” simulations. „commodification‟ and „commercialization‟. Increased investments are made in cultural centers. 4. one of the major motivations remains the fact that the investors and the developers are fully aware of the economic benefits that such public spaces bring to their investments. the economy of many cities improved drastically. public spaces have become significant means of marketing localities. public spaces are seen as the prominent means to develop positive images of certain city areas and achieve a level of attractiveness to potential investors. symbolic and aesthetic roles. especially commercial centers in exchange for the provision of public amenities. goods. With globalization. The three major phenomena. The changing patterns of urban public spaces present the following three common trends: increasing privatization of spaces that were once more clearly in the public domain. The new landscape is well designed in order to create a strong visual identity. Cultural events and sport tournaments which are organized in order to promote the city have once more increased the popularity of the urban public spaces. which show the over-emphasis on the economic roles of public spaces. The public spaces of the „world cities‟ have also been revitalized. the investors and the teams of designers and architects claim they are made beautiful and livable in order to fulfill the public needs. but also a great deal had to face economic decline. to create and promote its image in order to attract capital. Within the new landscape. cultural and historical characteristics. Privatization of public space means shifting of the . corporations and labor. This is when these cities realized they need to promote new images. increasing surveillance of public spaces and control of access to them. heritage parks and conference suites which are designed to play a catalytic role in urban regeneration.the rest of the city. However. create safe. Characteristics of the Public Space Nowadays Today‟s public spaces. Today. Another motivation for this increased interest is the desire to “market‟ the city. are „privatization‟. also called „quasi-public spaces‟. good-looking and exclusive environments in order to attract investors and developers.
Commodification of public space refers to the recognition of public realm as a commodity to be bought and sold. management and control of public spaces from the public sector to the private sector (the selling of public streets by public authorities to raise money). which translates into various architectural styles. The economic. as well as the restoration and rehabilitation of the historical sites of cities and their promotion as tourist attractions. impress and promote the feeling of affluence. By introducing „exclusivity in the design‟ (use of chic. commercial. such as noise. car parking. stylish architecture. which is means of the image-building strategy meant to attract investors and affluent consumers. „The control on the users and activities of the public spaces aims at achieving the smooth operation of retailers . such as cars. This control aims to eliminate unwanted factors which are usually to be found in traditional public spaces. Commercialization of public space means that public realm is used in order to bring profit rather than to improve the quality of urban space and life (The creation of exclusive and affluent public spaces in order to increase the value of the waterfront. which is used to create good-looking public spaces. cold weather and violence. Another component. just like other material goods. private guards or private security forces and limited opening hours) is also meant to manage the users and activities taking place in these public spaces. the new public spaces are meant to attract. and to the treatment of things as if they were a tradable commodity). several design strategies have been used. highly ornamental elegant materials). “From shopping malls to gated neighborhoods and protected walkways. „Culture‟ and „History‟ are two other tools used to promote the economic and symbolic roles of the public spaces by means of simulation of historical places. smoke. and the public spaces of theme parks. The strict control (surveillance and security cameras. is the use of „art‟ which beautifies them turning them into commodities and promoting affinity. residential. The second trend in the urban public space changing pattern is their control. which starts with their design. refrigerators or television sets (the expansion of market trade to previously non-market areas.design. In order to produce these „welldesigned‟ public spaces. Another design strategy would be introducing „variety and diversity‟ in the design. even replicas of world famous buildings or artifacts. as „the eclectic mix of images in the design of public spaces encourages consumption‟ (Cybriwsky). new urban spaces are increasingly developed and managed by private agencies in the interest of particular sections of the population” Madanipour. symbolic and aesthetic roles of the new public spaces are also underlined by the promotion of the over-designed and „attractive‟ public spaces. office and entertainment complexes. regional or mega shopping malls designed according to the principle of „capture‟ in order to keep the users inside and to increase consumption).
As stated in the beginning of the paper. 3. It is vital not to allow the economic. 2008. and perhaps dangerous. can only be achieved if there is a balance kept between the strategies to gain competitive advantage over other cities and a response to everyday society‟s needs and interests and genuine civic functions of public spaces. the comfort and convenience of the groups which do not feel safe in conventional public spaces. References Bahar Gediki. Changing patterns of urban public space: Observations and assessments from the Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas Z. Instead of gathering various people together. public spaces that actually meet their initial purpose and can ensure the generation of vital and viable cities. The design and management policies. Public Spaces” Stakeholder Workshop Henry Shaftoe. interaction and who constitutes „the public‟. as the traditional public spaces do. the public space represents the material location where the social interactions and political activities of all members of „the public‟ occur. Public spaces with strong emphasis on their certain roles cannot serve the public interest. in order to serve a „homogenous‟ public. “Health. The Process of Gentrification http://en.away from thugs and muggers. 2006. Müge) Public spaces which are produced under the pressure of city-marketing policies undermine the needs of local communities for the sake of private interest. The creation of „genuine public spaces‟. Public Spaces of Post-industrial Cities And their Changing Roles Dana Cornelia Nitulescu. The challenge for the regeneration initiatives is to take into consideration the everyday needs that society may have. and think globally regarding the civic function of public spaces in cities. This shows the fact that the social role of public spaces in the design of today‟s urban public spaces is severely undermined. as well as to encourage shopping and other consumption activities and to promote and protect the „good‟ image of the city‟(Z.1999. social alienation and isolation. Müge AKKAR ERCAN. the new public spaces enhance gentrification.wikipedia. also aim to push out undesirable members of the population of these public spaces. Quality of Life. Conclusion Public spaces are the products of competing ideas about what constitutes them – order and control or free.org . 2008. Convival Urban Spaces Roman Cybriwsky. 2007. symbolic and aesthetic effects to dominate. promote „social filtering‟ and therefore cause gentrification.