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Notion and Understanding of the Urban Public Realm in Mapusa, Goa

Researcher: Oriana Fernandez Guide: Prof. Vishvesh Kandolkar

Goa College of Architecture, Dr. T. B. Cunha Educational Complex, Altinho, Panaji, Goa

2009 – 2010


The spirit of place is a defining concept that determines the character and essence of
places and the people (users) in them. It is the general atmosphere of a place and the
effect that it has on people. Observing and experiencing different places excites curiosity
and engages interest among people. This technique of looking at places highlights the
optical and peripheral appearance; hence the focus on the ‘street scene’. In the same way,
this study of perception of Mapusa town wishes to delve into the working of these
intricate mechanisms that make up a series of networks; each unique in its own way, but
contributing to form a part of the whole picture. There are a number of aspects involved in
the making of a place.

The study focuses on trying to understand the reasons behind use of a particular place –
which places engage activity between people and their surroundings, and which places do
not, and the role time plays in determining how the place is used. This is an initiative
towards appreciating the spirit of place in Mapusa.

In order to understand the public place in Mapusa, the study is taken up as follows:
i. Establishing the nature of public realm in Mapusa after identifying important public
ii. Studying the nature of these places

The findings obtained reveal the patterns between the inside and the outside, the private
and the public and elements and interface; relationships necessary for the image of the
urban public realm.

Key Words

Urban public realm, public place, character, spirit of place (genius loci ), artifact, interface


The city is a place of complex diversity catering to concentrations of people and their
respective urban accessories and is deeply connected to surrounding territories so as to
state its prominence, existence and readily available assistance. The city as such is a
centre, and this centre forms place, and it is this place that conciliates various exchanged
interactions between different groups of people and entities. These places where these
experiences are channelled and produced can be referred to as the public realm within
the urban situation.

The concept of public realm no doubt exists in every settlement but it has proven to have
gained significant relevance within an urban context. The urban scene narrates a city’s
past, never leaves out the present and remains susceptible to the future. The scene
changes physically in order to adjust to rapid economic and developmental growth, but
traces of the traditional essence and spirit still abound. It is not lost.

The urban public realm hosts a range of activities coupled with human interactions and
social relations. It is a realm where people can get together and discuss and identify
matters of mutual interest, thus being able to reach a common understanding. It is a realm
in which this collective phenomenon would cease to function or even exist, should even a
single entity be missing from it.

Simply put, the urban public realm is where anything and/ or nothing can happen. It is a
general idea derived from instances that are indefinite and unpredictable while also being
bound by norms and regulations, within the urban framework.

Urban Public Realm – its notion and understanding – has been chosen for this study
because it is a complex entity that is capable of interpreting, influencing and forging
connections between various activities and interactions. It has always been an important
aspect of cities but is highly neglected. This public realm is diverse and multi -functional
but collectively contributes to the overall composition and existence of a place within a


The study carried out is based on perception , and not just on physical aspects.

‚We turn to the faculty of sight , for it is almost entirely through vision that the
environment is apprehended.‛ (Cullen, G. 1961)
The study is limited to the researcher’s observations through viewpoints of different
individuals, while walking through the town scapes. Place takes on different appearances
based on accounts and interpretations from numerous people. Therefore, each person will
have their own distinctive experience illustrated in their own words. Here, the scope is
limited to pedestrian vision , or perceptions of an individual along a street, road or space.

Understanding a place is possible by picking up a sequence or string of scenes observed at

different times of the day, describing them and getting a whole, if not totally complete
picture. By observing, for example, a street with residences on one side, and shops on the
other side, one can determine the type of users frequenting the street as well as the
primary and secondary activity patterns of the street. In essence, time is a crucial factor in
determining the nature of a place.

The area of study is restricted to the town of Mapusa, situated in the Bardez Taluka, in the
North Goa District. The town is valid in the current context as it exhibits particular aspects
of a place, namely diverse uses, user groups and activities. The subject being investigated
demands consistent cross-checking, along with explorative and descriptive research
design approaches. Hence, Mapusa, a town that is constantly growing and evolving with
time, became an evident choice.

The scope of the topic is an attempt to cover as many known possible aspects that form
the making and working of the public realm. Certain parameters have been defined and
have been taken up in this study in order to simulate a methodology that utilizes mere
observation to arrive at various conclusions. These parameters can be applied to any place
(environmental setting), as they form the basis for analysis and help in comparative
studies, thus widening further areas of study. The study of built public places like cafés,
restaurants, religious institutions, schools, public utility buildings, etc. is beyond the
scope of this study. Such functions play an important role in place-making and can
‘compliment’ this research if undertaken.


After acquiring the relevant Mapusa survey drawings and obtaining visual observations of
the areas of study, findings/ abstracts are converted into pictorial (drawing) form. This is
done initially in the form of base drawings comprising of plans and sections wherein
various elements and factors are outlined.

The base drawings in turn yield a common sub-set of drawings (figure ground diagram,
space typology, urban blocks, building typology, etc.) which helped in comparing all the
areas of study. Also minor and major activity patterns along with space details were
mapped out. Sections and sketches serve as a clue to the intensity of use by various user
groups. Figure Ground diagrams mapped over a period of time (morphological study) of
each area provides easy categorization that assist in the assessment of positive (e.g.
shade) and negative (e.g. alignment of buildings) space concepts.

In essence, each space/ area of study is thoroughly documented. As a result of which the
urban blocks get highlighted and the nature and characteristics of the spaces are brought
to light. This will helps in determining the location and overall physical configuration and
edge conditions.

The activities of each area are classified architecturally and analyzed subjectively i.e.
through judgements taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias (in this
case, the researcher).

The existence and presence of physical artifacts also enlists activity in each study area e.g.
person’s relationship with respect to threshold (balcony, verandah). Mobile artifacts are
present as well (level differences, shade, carts). Symbolic artifacts are special and
sometimes sentimental objects put up by people (statues, markers).

The understanding of usage, frequency of use and time of use of a space by users and
residents will help in forming a complete analysis. Observations made during two diffe rent
time frames i.e. in the morning (9 am to 11am) and in the evening (5 pm to 8 pm).

Assessment of the public realm would require analysis of the relation between a set of
logical physical and phenomenological propositions. Parameters that deemed suitable to
carry out specific case studies were proposed. These parameters were looked into
individually as well as collectively.

The Notion of Place

‚’Spirit of place’ or genius loci, arises from the special character or synesthetic quality of a
particular locality. The significant aspects in the evocation of this sense are numerous and
can include spatial structures, topographical patterns, textures, natural and climatic
conditions such as light, wind and sound, in addition to people and the pattern of h uman

The city street in Goa is not quite like the streets of Delhi or Mumbai, but it can often be
seen as a concoction between what is left of the old fabric and what was later added thus
making up the new fabric. This can clearly be seen, for example, when one passes through
Fontainhas, the old residential quarters of Panaji, and then stumbles into Church Square
and then walks along the 18 June Road. The change in character and the heterogeneous
mix of it is very striking. What one notices, besides the change in the mere physical
appearance of the streetscape and built form, is the change in spirit of place . The starting
point is within a quiet, enclosed residential area and steadily works up towards the
opposite – a noisy, more unprohibited commercial area which can be seen as two
contrasts along a clear horizontal line. The line forms the path taken by a person and is
represented in this case by access paths and streets. Lines play a crucial role in
determining and assessing spirit of place especially in the context of Goa.

The experiences of public place and of private place are different yet they are connected
through the use of semi-public and semi-private transitions that are present while
navigating these boundaries.

The public place is viewed as a realm of a vast range of user-activity interactions that are
most of the time unpredictable and invariably layered. It is layered simply because of the
dependence of one activity on another, and that a missing link anywhere would lead to a
break in the chain of steps. Many of these interactions would together form a collective
cluster of urban entities contributing towards the overall urban place, which would assist
in its daily functioning. Such clusters are seen at the Taxi Stand. They are seen in the form
of stalls that appear to be temporary in nature but are not, and the way in which these
stalls are arranged. They are positioned around trees or along the connecting/ access
street. They are arranged so as to ensure their relation and easy accessibility to public
users within the area. These stalls form a very fine grain in opposition to the surrounding
larger, more complex grains.

The private place is viewed as a realm of segregation only availing of partial inclusion
with the public place at main entry/ exit points. There are noticeably fewer user-activity
interactions. The interactions that do take place however at transition points (porches,
canopies, balconies) play their role in shaping the edge of the public place. They are
excessively demanded and used when escaping the rain, or to take shelter from the heat
of the sun. This would be interaction with the built form and a public user.
Conversations taking place at a seating place in front of a house would constitute
interaction between a private user and a public user. Private place calls for a more

Bognar, Botond; A Phenomenological Approach to Architecture and its Teaching in the Design
Studio; 2000; Appearing in Dwelling, Space and Environment
detailed or more intense form of interaction. In the case of the access path at Ansabhat,
the artifacts (seats) which are part of the built form create a ‘speechless dialogue’ with the
user. The user can belong to either the private or public place, but the artifact is commonly
used. This forms a case of interaction between built form, artifacts and user. The food
stalls in front of Alankar Cinema form a defined communicative edge wherein dialog ue
takes place between the stall owner and the customer. Artifacts within this area are
temporary in nature and come into play only in the evening when various food activities
(fast food, fruit stalls, etc.) begin. The artifacts include the arrangement of tables and
chairs that in turn form an extension of the private into the public. This entire relationship
forms a case of interaction between the private and public user.

The relation between the public place and the private place is their ability to spill into the
other, not forcibly, but fluidly.

The Notion of Public Realm

It is not uncommon to realize that most urban entities, or in the case of Mapusa, the
streets, have great significance which is not given due credit. The importance of the street
is not felt nor is it recognized. With the passage of time, these entities, these streets, have
undergone tremendous physical changes influenced by the usage of that space as well as
the user groups. The street edge now caters more to the vehicle than the pedestrian. There
is a growing loss if interaction between the edge and user, for the street is now more
commonly referred to as a road, bearing the marked qualities and characteristics. Building
codes also incorporate setbacks that disturb the edge and create gaps in the urban public
realm fabric.

The inside and the outside are two distinct spheres that connect only by way of transition
points, or by way of some activity that requires facing the outside (e.g. a shop that extends
partly onto the street in order to display its wares). What is formed is a zone where inside
and outside overlap, which can be referred to as the space in between . This is similar to
grey zones that exist within the urban fabric. At times, it is hard to say where the inside/
outside begins/ ends. This gives rise to the interface, the overlap where these two
phenomena affect each other and are linked to each other in the form of users and
activities and the interaction between the two.

How are the inside and the outside defined?

Firstly, the interactions that occur are mutual. They take place either near the
interface, on the edge of the interface or even overlap the interface . Transition shuttles
between the two spheres: from inside to outside and vice versa. Due to the developed
interface, entities from the outside can go inside and the other way around as well. Both
spheres will have some properties of the other. This shows that at certain points or after a
certain level, restrictions are imposed maintaining respective degrees of p rivacy and
security from the outside.

A case of interaction taking place near the interface can be seen in the form of the
mobile coconut seller push carts. They position themselves strategically so as to draw
users from the private place as well as from the public place. These cases were seen at

Ansabhat and at the Taxi Stand. In the first case, the position was on the street in
between houses and commercial blocks, and in the second case between a street and an
open space (parking lot).

Interaction on the edge of the interface is seen at the stall in front of Alankar Cinema. In
this case, the stall forms the defining line or boundary for dialogue between private ans
public user. The customer on the public side is only able to communicate with the stall
owner but cannot venture into the private confines of the stall. As such, this forms a case
of dialogue between one common entity (private place – stall owner) and an infinite
number of uncommon entities (public place – customers).

Lastly, an overlap in the interface is seen wherein private spills out into public and vice-
versa. Ansabhat’s access path displays this overlap effectively with its extensions and
projections seen in the form of seats, porches and verandahs. At times even steps from
residences extend slightly onto the access path. This is the most intimate form of
interaction as there suddenly appears to be no more limitations or physical boundaries
prohibiting a preferred interaction suited to both the private and public place.

The Making of the Public Realm

i. A sense of belonging can occur within the built form itself and the manner in which
the edge (interface) of the built form is utilized. Belonging would determine the
reason for certain connections of varying intensity within a given place. This can be
seen in how the interface and its built form are accepted by users.
Enclosure is dually associated with belonging. It describes the nearness or distance
between the interface and the corresponding artifacts. This quality can be found in
almost any place either hidden from the public eye or as the first impression
experienced. The indication of a sense of enclosure helps in determining limits or
boundaries within a place by offering little, enough or too much exposure within the
public realm itself and also between the public and private places.

ii. The public realm, in order to communicate with and within a group, would require a
system of intersecting lies or channels that contribute to the whole or make part of
the whole. These interconnected systems of things and people are made up of the
physical layout, the activity patterns, the association patterns and the connections
between them. By analyzing the networks of the public realm, various observations
are noted and patterns emerge.

iii. The existing processes in the public realm produced by man are associated with
specific behavioral and habitual practices. From this, frequency of usage of a place is
a more determining factor. The role of usage along an interface followed up with the
associated activity patterns gives rise to the kind of place and whether such a place is
generally favourable or not.

iv. The street edge serves as an indicator to where surfaces commence and where they
terminate. At times, it is difficult to tell, as many physical and visual elements
overlap the surface. This edge is important as it determines what lies within both the
public and private place and also acts as a base point for further spatial demarcation.

The Role of Public Realms

From the two notions described previously:

i. Sense of belonging can be seen in how the interface and its built form are accepted
by users
ii. Sense of enclosure can be seen in how the interface and its elements are perceived
by users
iii. The integration of the artifact, as well as the recurrence of both physical and spatial
levels are the other factors to look out for while studying a place
iv. The arrangement of networks allows for identification of individual components
and the segregation of the same
v. The frequency of usage of a place is a determining factor. The role of usage along
an interface followed up with the associated activity patterns gives rise to the kind
of place
vi. Control strikes a balance between the internal and the external

The public realm follows an organization based on interactions that are expressed either
independently, totally or partially which together interlace into a human network.

Criterion for Selection of Study Area

The following areas were chosen for study (based on the political and religious ward maps
of Mapusa):
i. Ansabhat (residential area)
ii. Hutatma Chowk + Taxi Stand (commercial area)
iii. Municipal Council, Angod (administrative + commercial area)
iv. Old Market Precinct, Angod + Rajwaddo (commercial + public area)

Since the town of Mapusa has defined old and new parts, it was felt that areas of study be
taken up in both fields, and also in areas that are beginning to give into the new fabric.
Areas in the old part of the town would point out the traditional spirit of place, the new
parts would depict the new presence felt and the places in between would show the fine
lines between old and new. Four types of analysis were applied to four areas of study. For
the purpose of depicting the application of the methodology, the Taxi Stand has been
taken as a sample.

Figure 1

Analysis of Comparative Diagrams

The diagrams depicted for the four areas of study are made up of:
1. Urban Blocks
2. Figure Ground
3. Hierarchy of Built and Enclosed Space
4. Building Use
5. Circulation

Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6

Comparative Diagrams – Urban blocks, Figure ground, Hierarchy of space, Building Use, Circulation

Analysis of Activity Patterns

This analysis has tried to show how a network is used for different times of the day. It
shows which points are frequented more, leading to the type of users at that point.
Observations were made during two different time frames – morning and evening.

Taxi Stand
Morning: Afternoon: Evening: Change through time:
 Temple related  Informal vendors  Formal, informal  Continuous
 Commercial, formal,  Shops closed, reopen trade/ business pedestrian +
informal trade/ in the evening (end) vehicular movement
business (start)  Resting  Shopping; (2 main roads)
 Transit related (taxi +  Transit (not too parking;  Gradual build up in
bus stand + market) frequent) gathering number and
 Garden, physical  Garden, intensity of
exercise strolling, businesses and
 Parking; shopping; relaxing users through the
gathering day reaching peak
by late evening
 Garden frequented
in the evening
Figure 7

Analysis of Association Patterns

Here, in order to better understand the levels involved in making of the public realm, it
was felt that along with normal street sections, functions, spatial organization (rooms),
building components (form) and typology of built form be noted down. This will make for
more complete comparisons.

Figure 8 Figure 9

Analysis of Artifacts

What is an urban artifact?

According to Aldo Rossi (The Architecture of the City) :

‚Defining an urban artifact…in other words, to define and classify a street, a city, a street
in a city; then the location of this street, its function, its architecture; then the street
systems possible in the city and many other things.‛

In Mapusa, the term takes on a new meaning:

An urban artifact represents certain demarcated areas or objects or markers that people
are constantly using or frequently acknowledging, or they are drawn towards it due to
some significance.

Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure 11 Figure 12

The Tree...and Shade (Taxi Stand, Mapusa)

Analysis of Parameters Affecting Study Areas

Nine aspects affecting the public place have been covered and have been represented
along with the relative notes, observations, diagrams/ photos. This helps in forming points
from each area of study thus making up the framework for the conclusion.

Figure 13 Figure 14 Figure 15 Figure 16

Diagrams showing accessibility, physical configuration, shape and enclosure


About Ansabhat: Ansabhat essentially being residential in nature displays signs of or

relating to the home i.e. of a very domestic type. This is a district or place, where people
live that is occupied primarily by private residences and this in turn creates a sense of
community – a sense of common ownership. As such there are very few or no strangers
within this area. The presence of these ‚unknowns‛ can be seen only in pockets where
commercial blocks are present along with their shops on the ground floor level. In the
afternoons, the connecting streets within Ansabhat play host to children playing games
(the length of each street is acceptable for cricket). All these factors together form an
active place that is more domestic in character rather than commercial. The activities
taking place would be home or house related and restricted to private, semi-private and
semi-public places.

About the Taxi Stand: The taxi stand bears a striking contrast to the residential Ansabhat
area. It is highly commercial in nature wherein there is a constant social exchange of
opinions and attitudes that in turn get reflected in the place. The nature seen is one of
constant integration and segregation between functions and users – wherein both are
included and/ or excluded. Having many transactions taking place leads to a high level in
number of users/ strangers. As such there is no defined containment and there is an
apparent ‚stranger anxiety‛. This is seen at the two trees wherein the shops here cater to
an infinite number of strangers. The tree is a scaled activity taking place within the larger
network of activities. So this is a highly active commercial area dealing with
interconnected small and large-scale activities and undefined users.

About MMC Area: Being a place that caters more to street and junction movement, the
place has a mixed use nature wherein different activities are brought or combined
together with another activity/ function. There is a constant movement between
pedestrians and vehicles and as such major activities are anchored along various points
along the streets and at the junctions. There are specific activities that take place along
the street and many sub-activities (stalls attached to the Municipal Council) are found
here as they cater to other major activity points. There are a number of indicators or
reference points that pedestrians use in order to orient themselves. The Municipal Council
is one such point that invariably stands out and directs users in a particular direction. This
defines an active place of movement.

About Old Market Precinct: This is also a mixed use area infused with public usage. It
displays a particular set of activities during the day (commercial) and another (public –
food stalls) at night. The connecting street in front of Alankar Cinema caters to rows of
food stalls on either side. This promotes interaction between inside and outside but the
actual physical enclosure is not affected. The food activities take place within the realm of
the street itself and not really encroaching upon the built form. The built form i.e. the
Alankar Cinema is a public activity generator serving as a movie theatre which anchors all
other peripheral activities around itself. This serves as a destination towards an active


The notion of the public realm could be acknowledged after accepting that it is a plane
of existence that holds diverse patterns and unique significance for every user within it. In
any public realm, the type of use and number of users will always influence the kind of
place and thus lead to the overall formation and character.

For example, the taxi stand near the bus stand and market place is itself a mini sub -
system of the urban place in Mapusa which despite being off-centre, manages to handle
traffic and pedestrian movement all around it and if not for the presence of 2 gas stations
along its cross-connecting access road would probably have been a place to host more
pedestrian-oriented activities. The 2 trees and their associated stalls (and shrine) within
the confines of the taxi stand are proof of this place as opposed to the surrounding
haphazard environment; that in a sea of vehicles (and chaos) there are pause points
located, which are indeed essential for the urban public realm.

Another idea behind the public realm is that it is made up of a series of seemingly
disjointed, but nevertheless related and inter-connected interactions. It is required that
these interactions make use of the interior and the exterior, the inside and the outside.
However, it is not possible to have defined and rigid boundaries for every ‘inside-outside’
fixture located along and within the public realm.

For example, is the access path located within the residential precinct of Ansabhat a part
of the inside or a part of the outside? The answer is that it is both. It is conveniently
placed and its purpose is mainly to provide entry to the houses along the path. The path is
physically visible and present, but there are no restrictions or obstacles preventing
anyone from traversing its length. It is remarkable to see that such a simple urban artifact
has managed to exist, let alone survive, within this ever-changing urbanscape in Mapusa.

So far, we have seen that place is formed within the urban framework due to the presence
of connecting or pause points and their related interactions. There ideally should be no
boundaries preventing access to a worthwhile public point, along or within an element or
artifact, within the public realm. Urban place is thus discovered and realized by allowing
these non-restricted points to coexist simultaneously and produce various multiple
patterns of public place.

Determining whether a public place is active or inactive also helps towards classifying
the place. Would not all, or at least, most public places be active (simply because it is
within reach of the public users)? This is not always the case.

Within the 4 areas of study, 2 parks/ gardens were studied – the Dr. Rammanohar Lohiya
garden near the taxi stand and the MMC garden near the Mapusa Municipal Council.
Location plays a major role in determining who uses both gardens and the number of
The former garden is located with proximity to the bus stand, taxi stand and market place,
and also serves as the only source of repose and shelter for that entire area. It is a most
welcome addition in what would have otherwise been another parking lot or mini bus
stand. The garden is maintained and frequented (the fountains are a crowd-puller and

counter the high temperatures in summer) and there you have a so-called active public
On the other hand, the MMC garden has probably exhausted all its glory days and it bears
only a few trees that stand testimony to its former past. The garden was at one point
visually blocked due to the construction of a ramped parking lot for 2-wheelers in front of
it (this ramp got demolished recently) and was also stripped bare of its greenery so as to
arrange for its ‘restoration’ and ‘renovation’. No doubt the containing wall was repaired
and painted along with commemoration stone installed et al, but the green ch aracter of
the garden never returned. Thus we have the creation of an inactive public place , wherein
character is lost or completely erased for the ’better good’.

The power of observation is a wonderful tool to work with. It is an art which cannot be
learnt easily, but once acquired it makes analyzing of a given situation more effective and
more efficient.

For the purpose of this study, these observational skills were applied using 4 different
aspects that would help in building up the overall picture for each study area.

i. A public place functions differently for various times of the day. It will respond in a
certain way to morning activities and to evening activities in another way. If the place
happens to be predominantly office and commercial in use, like at the Taxi Stand, it
will cater to more types and numbers of users during the day than at night. The
exception to the rule however is seen at the Old Market Precinct which is now
notoriously well known (and revered) for its scrumptious (or horrendous...if one had
to consider cleanliness) display of food stalls, all lined up in 2 rows in front of
Alankar Cinema. The stalls are open throughout the year even during the monsoon
season. They are however never open during the day, except for the occasional clean-
up but are released from their dormancy only after 5 pm every evening. They remain
active till the wee hours of early morning i.e. 1 am to 3 am. The stalls get a good
turnout especially over the weekends. Observing activity patterns help to judge the
situation within the urban public place better.

ii. The understanding of restricted areas, limits, boundaries, demarcations, the

classification of hierarchy of built and open space means that one is able to see the
lines that are drawn that separate public activity from the private domain. A purely
residential street, like that at Ansabhat would follow a certain pattern which
commences with the street (and its components), that leads to a balcony/ porch/
verandah/ seating space which further leads into the actual dwelling unit and its
subsequent spaces (rooms). This is what is seen in plan. In sections and even from a
three-dimensional point of view, one is able to gauge the kind of spaces created by
observing volume, mass, height, roof lines, etc. Then there are the semi-private and
semi-public spaces which further contribute towards the understanding of associative
properties or association patterns of a place.

iii. The street components from the previous point, too, play their part and contribute to
the fabric of the public place. It has been noticed that in almost all (3 out of 4) the
study areas, there is at least one hair cutting salon for men or a barber shop. Even at
Alankar Cinema, a shed near the omelette pao seller has been reserved solely for the

purpose of hair cutting! The oldest establishments are those from Ansabhat and near
the MMC. Along with the barbers, the other shops, stores and stalls fall in place. One
should be aware of the urban artifacts (elements) that are mobile and move. It is
interesting to follow the path taken by a hand cart selling coconuts (and these were
seen at 2 out of 4 study areas) as the object of consideration knows where to go and
how to get there in order to entice and draw in coconut lovers. The artifact should
never be taken for granted, no matter how small, for each one helps to shape and
define the public realm.

iv. It was also possible to compile a set of factors that seemed to fit the areas of study.
These were quantitative and qualitative in nature and they characterized a given area
of study from which estimated points were made from data previously collected.
These parameters helped in defining a system and determined or limited the place’s
performance in the overall working of the public realm.

The dissertation has ventured into levels that define and explain the composition and
working of the urban public realm; that within the Goan settlement, time of day seems to
be a very prominent factor and allows for public places to experience the heat of sun or
not at all. Most businesses in Mapusa tend to close shop from 1 pm to 4 pm in order to
avoid the heat while also availing of the traditional afternoon siesta followed ritually after

The analysis adopted has shown the relationship between location, physical configuration
and edge conditions of public place. In almost all the study areas, most of the activity
(interface) takes place at ground level, or shop level which faces the bustling street. The
sad truth is that there are no subtle distinctions (in fact, they are quite the opposite -
harsh) between new components i.e. new commercial multi-storey blocks and old
components i.e. traditional Mangalore tiled sloping roofs. In due course, if not seriously
(and genuinely) checked or looked into, the physical set-up will be totally mass-
manufactured, bar coded and will cease to possess a character that is to be identified with
that of the Goan street. Location has to be influenced by its surroundings – both in terms
of built environment and related activities. So, the appearance of built form also presents
an important contribution to this relation.

The methodology helps in identifying types of public places, finding out if they are active
or inactive and what recommendations can be made to make an inactive place more
active. Understanding urban artifacts – their configuration and working – is an important
clue in understanding the notion of public place, and thus the overall public realm.


I wish to thank my guide, Prof. Vishvesh Kandolkar, for his encouragement, guidance,
suggestions and captivating conversations throughout the process of this investigation. I
appreciate the discussions I had with Prof. Rajiv Kadam (CEPT, Ahmedabad) and with Arch.
Yatin Pandya (Ahmedabad). I am grateful to our Dissertation Committee comprising of
Prof. Himanshu Burte, Prof. Rohit Nadkarni, Prof. A. R. Antao and Prof. A. K. Rege for their
assistance. I would like to thank Prof. Amit Parashar and Apurva Kulkarni for their advice
and suggestions. I also appreciate the cooperation and assistance of the Urban Design
(Masters Program) students from CEPT, Ahmedabad - Navajyothi Mahenderkar, Hemang
Mistry, Heera Mohan and Vasim Shaikh. The assistance given by the various government
departments to obtain the necessary data required for the initial stages of urban study is
very much appreciated. I wish to thank my parents and family for their encouragement and
patience throughout the course of this dissertation.

About the Author

Oriana Fernandez is a final year student of the Goa College of Architecture for the
academic year 2009-2010. This research dissertation is a part of fulfilment of the
curriculum for obtaining a degree in Architecture from the Goa College of Architecture,
Goa University. She was chosen to represent her Semester 9 Design Thesis project at the
Kurula Varkey Design Forum 2010 held at Centre for Environmental Planning and
Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad.

Source of Illustrations: All images are by the author.




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