Public Space and Society

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Research Methodology

Choice of Methods

This issue needs to extract a clear definition and a clear framework, therefore I have employed a qualitative investigative study as a way to determine the research design. This investigative research has relied on reviewing the available literature, a case study, site analysis and also empirical studies. The following gives a brief description of each and every category.

Literature Review

At the beginning of the project, I used several pieces of literature, which include books and articles, in order to express a clear notion of public spaces and urban squares, the importance of urban squares in society and also influential features of public spaces. Furthermore, this method has been used to investigate and explore an answer to the questions that are mentioned as ‘Research questions’. The literature embraces relevant studies from different disciplines; the diversity of the studies helped to gain the most information regarding this topic.

Case Study

Each urban public space has a specific context to impact on its users and also gives a different reaction and percipience about the place, consequently I decided to choose a square for analysing as a case study which has different characteristics. The purpose of analysing Stortorget (Main Square) was to find out impressive strengths and destructive weaknesses due to their impact on social interaction and subsequently on quality of social life. In other words, this is an attempt to identify the development factors of social life in the community.

Site Analysis

In order to propose a successful design, the first step is perception of space and also understanding existing potential in locations. Yet, the importance of this issue is manifold about the design of a public space where many social relations are formed. This method is employed to mention weaknesses and deficiencies that there are in a site, in addition to depicting strengths and the existing conditions that can help to achieve a better identification in order to investigate and design. Using several pictures and diagrams is the most prominent and significant feature of this method that provides a perspicuous explanation and a comprehensive image of the location.

Empirical Study


Observation as an important empirical method can be used to realize the unique characteristics of a space. By observing the segments of the spaces, an author or researcher can have a clear perception of spatial form, and how the space is utilized. In addition, considering the quality of activities occurring in the squares is another significant issue which can be examined in this way. During the use of this method, theauthor took a lot of location photographs. This method makes it possible that we can establish a closer connection with the space and environment. As a matter of fact, understanding the sense of space is quite tangible with the use of this method. Attendance at a space makes it possible to achieve serious new ideas that have not been mentioned in the past.

Literature Review


One of the most important features of urban life today is complex social relationships. Part of the relationships are in the work environment, but much of them take place in the form of social interaction in the urban space concept. So, urban space plays an important role in the social development of citizens. Social interactions are formed in these places. A social zone is defined and also the mechanisms of collective life are experienced. Thus the absence of a suitable urban space can cause social ills in cities. Squares are one of the most important urban areas and have long been the context of formation of social life.
The impacts of quick changing monetary and social conditions have progressively become notable on how individuals use and shape their surroundings. The urban populace has been drastically expanding overall and hence physical structure of the urban areas changes always, for the most part in negative ways. As the populace expands, the interest for infrastructure and equipment becomes greater. Privatization and decentralization are the two noteworthy worries on the eventual fate of the urban areas and open spaces. “Increasing mobility, communication technologies and globalization leads to expansion of urban areas causing life style changes, thus use of public spaces” (Memluk, 2013, p. 1).

Conceptual Cognition of Public Space

Understanding Public Spaces

Studies have demonstrated that a decent quality open domain can be advantageous to local economies, urge people to expend more time in shops and organizations, and raise house costs. Public spaces are viewed as just on the grounds that everyone can utilize them: places that logically at any rate, permit « community » to exist and prosper. Public space is “our open-air living room, our outdoor leisure Centre” (Lipton, 2002, Foreword). How spaces are comprehended and utilized may likewise rely on upon individual and gathering attributes. For instance, the sociology of childhood recognizes public spaces as spots where children and youth can build a type of protection in their own particular places, far from the familial control and observation of home.

What is a Public Space?

In urban planning, public space has generally been characterized as “open space”, which means the streets, parks and amusement regions, squares and other freely possessed and oversaw outside spaces, in contrast with the private area of lodging and work (Tonnelat, 2010). Despite that, the late advancements of the types of urban settlement and the increasing number and assortment of semi-open spaces oversaw by private-open or totally private organizations addresses this thought acquired from a legitimate point of view. Nowadays, public spaces should be understood as not quite the same as people in the general area of the state and its subdivisions, but instead as a space available to the general population. The urban project thus establishes a formal hierarchy between the avenues, boulevards, streets, alleyways, passages and squares that constitute a basic vocabulary of urban design (Mangin, David and Panerai, 1999).

Public Space and Society

Public Space for Community Interaction

Public spaces are assumed to be a key part in the urban structure and city life, turning into an advantaged component keeping in mind the end goal to advance regional attachment. It in this way that is conceivable to consider open space as a component ready to advance progression and requests from the region, additionally with a characteristic capacity to make and keep up coherent local centrality, ecological quality, financial intensity and feeling of citizenship (Borja and Muxi, 2003). Public spaces permit individuals to meet on apparently impartial ground in arranged and impromptu routes, to communicate with others inside of the entire society. These incorporate family relationships (for instance, multi-era family shopping campaigns), social groupings (for instance, youth bunches), nearby social associations (for instance, risk or arranged gatherings with companions, neighbours and work partners) and gatherings meeting through basic enthusiasm (for instance, strolling gatherings). By encouraging this blending, public spaces can add to the attachment of groups.
The general population perceptible of various types of individuals is supported by their vicinity public spaces, and individuals’ comprehension of their group is to a limited extent shaped by who and what they find in the general population area Observations demonstrate that numerous people use public spaces as open doors for authorized people-viewing. Guests and inhabitants from diverse parts of the town, including people from distinctive ethnic and financial gatherings and individuals of distinctive ages and capacities, can be in the same spot in the meantime, permitting people to assess and reassess the qualities of space and their own particular association with it. Particular public spaces like squares operate as their daytime social spaces and meeting places. These favoured spaces are seen to offer some privacy or isolation alongside a level of security and connectedness with the town.

Managing Public Spaces

There is an accord between statutory authorities, town and the overall population that security is a noteworthy factor in the public spaces. Individuals are attracted to, and tend to stay longer, in public spaces that offer opportunities for hobbies and/or a level of solace. Study and information scrutiny demonstrate that people acknowledge and search for extraordinary occasions and exercises public spaces, both locally and in the town focus. One of a kind and unique occasions, including unconstrained ‘street entertainment’, likewise get the consideration and characterize places as intriguing. Public spaces were utilized distinctively as indicated by the extent to which they were mainly basic (undifferentiated) or complex (with diverse and differentiated parts). In an extensive open space a great many people tend to skirt the space’s edges unless there is an activity being held (Holland et al., 2007).

Inviting Public Life

The life or dormancy of open spaces depends very much on their nature and whether they are inviting to likely clients, to walk, stay, sit or generally appreciate the spaces. Overviews of existing city ranges, and new towns and new city regions and advancements, have indicated striking contrasts concerning life and inertia. Everything focuses on the quality issues being of substantial importance. Furthermore, the confirmation in like manner focuses on the requirement for a more methodical and watchful treatment of the general population domain so as to secure great quality and to guarantee spaces are inviting to clients (Gehl, n.d.). The global finding is that at whatever point quality is given individuals will come.
Access to other people, to potential outcomes for experience and entertainment among others are sought after, and these open doors have vital parts for maintaining or reinforcing the general approaches for benevolence, others conscious, majority rule and safe social order.
More new towns and new improvements are arranged with the expressly expressed point of making an energetic, appealing and safe city or locale. It must be discovered that life in present-day open spaces is exceptionally delicate. Only if conditions are correct will strolling and waiting be ordinary. Consequently, the planning of public spaces must be done exceptionally precisely. The tools have been created. It should be possible: a few remarkable examples like Aker Brygge, Oslo, Skarpnäck, Stockholm and Almere, Holland, can be found by the numerous disappointments (Gehl, n.d.).

Social Interactions

Out in open spaces, small children can find out about social behaviour by watching what outsiders look like and how they act, how their careers communicate with outsiders, and how to keep the peace in broad daylight. Arranged activities to encourage incorporated public spaces need to incorporate the needs of families and children so they can be incorporated into the general population life of the town. Created open spaces have been portrayed as overwhelmingly adult spaces (Valentine, 1996), where adults’ viewpoints and mores win while the discernment and needs of kids and youths are infrequently highlighted.

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Social Status and Marginality

While youths and adults of numerous social gatherings routinely utilize the centre areas of town, contrasts could be seen in how people from diverse social classes used the spaces. For instance, more established individuals depicted by onlookers as ‘better dressed’ will probably use coffee shops in the malls and are considerably less liable to sit at the seats in Market Square. Discovering approaches to keep the focal area public and open to all requires development and creative ability, social incitement, acknowledgment of assorted qualities of clients, and in addition access to assets to give progressing upkeep of the infrastructure. Participation is required between those duties of overseeing open zones.
Urban commentators generally believe that a strong relationship exists between urban public space and civic culture. Urbanists have long insisted on the opinion that the physical and social mobility of public spaces play a central role in the formation of publics and public culture (Amin, 2006 cited in History shows that urban planning is one of the endeavours to manage public spaces in ways that create sociality and civic engagement. Many theorists of urban modernity believe that if public spaces organize and design properly, they would offer the potential for social communion by allowing us to lift our gaze from the daily grind, and also as a result, these spaces can increase our inclination towards the other (Amin, 2006, cited in As we see these days, the authorities are making great efforts to engineer social interaction in public spaces. For example, these attempts include holding street theatre, multicultural festivals and food celebrations.
Public spaces have an important role in shaping public behaviour or indeed even a sense of the commons. Many people have only symbolic visualizations of public spaces such as squares and parks in their mind but in my opinion, this is contrary to the role of public spaces in solidarity and to create a kind of public commitment. Many efforts have been made to create social cohesion and social culture understanding by urban policy through interventions directed of inter-personal interaction. These measures have been done to bring together people from different backgrounds in common spaces. One of the achievements of public space is that it offers this meaning that human can participate as fully fledged social people in civic life (Amin, 2006).

Defining Urban Squares

Urban squares are also part of the public spaces; these spaces are a subset of a larger space and more general which is known as urban space (Zeka, 2011, p.17).
Figure 2-1 Gradual spatial context of approaching an urban square (Source: Zeka, 2011, p.17)

Urban Space

Many scholars have identified urban spaces with a number of different perspectives (Krier, 1979, p.15). Also having a physical approach of urban space, identifies space as the form (without imposing aesthetic criteria). Subsequently, Krier characterizes urban space as the “external space”, “all types of space between buildings in towns and other localities.” The concept of urban space needs to take into consideration the physical, social and symbolic aspects at the same time. Urban spaces are important segment of daily lives (Francis, 1987, p. 23). Such activities of daily life take place both in public spheres and private spheres.

Public Space

Public spaces also depict a crucial and essential part of the ‘democratic’ community life, particularly urban squares, a public property that serves as a site with the expectation of complimentary discourse and free judgment of chose authorities in full perspective of others. Public spaces are important components of daily lives. The public space concept covers an extensive variety of roles and capacities in a variety of physical setting such as streets, squares, plazas, market places and parks. This study aims to focus on the public urban spaces such as squares.

Urban Square

Every society has its own particulars for such urban public open spaces, every one of these terms addresses a typical point which is: ‘the open space for public use’ concept of urban square. In this respect urban squares have a social angle in appreciation of its public dimension and a spatial facet because of its physical organization. Urban square frequently has been an image of social communication and majority rules system.
According to Lynch, an urban square is the “activity focus” in the centre of dense urban areas. He states that “. . . it will be paved, enclosed by high density structures, and surrounded by streets, or in contact with them. It contains features meant to attract groups of people and to facilitate meetings” (Lynch, 1981, p. 443). As a result, I think that an urban square is one sort of urban open public space that focuses on the public space system, providing a forum for interchange, both social and financial, and a focus for civic pride and community expression.

History of Urban Squares

The first city emerged 6000 years ago and city squares were established at the crossroads of consequential trade routes. An established earliest example of today’s public squares is the Greek “agora”. Democracy played a significant role in shaping Greek cities. The agora was an open place in the downtown area where political, social and financial activities took place. Greek “agoras” were public spaces for a wide range of social events, for example, political meetings, athletic and musical amusements, theatre exhibitions and business activities (Hölscher, 2007). The geometrical type of the agora was generally square or rectangle (Zeka, n.d).
As mentioned previously, the square has played a main role in urban life since Ancient Rome and this was much before formation of the modern street. Regardless of whether the square permeated eastern towns from western towns or vice versa, it is important to recognize that in today’s world as a prerequisite for the realization of any phenomenon, it’s the concept. In the urban culture book by Robert Cowan (2005), a square is defined foot space and a green space as a closed rectangle that all or part of is surrounded by buildings. So the importance of the walking role and social gatherings is the most important characteristic of a square. “In all probability the square was the first way man discovered of using urban space” (Kerir, 1979, p.17).

Roles of an Urban Square

This part of the study concentrates on the roles and functions of contemporary urban squares. It gives brief data about reasons of using a square and identifies the utilities that squares provide. Urban squares have a diversity of roles and functions since they are the important and necessary forms of public spaces that attract vast number of individuals with a wide assortment of activities. It is a place where people have positive social interactions, meet each other, have lunch, hold a friendly chat, watch the world pass by, read something, rest for a while or shop around.
According to Lynch (1992), a public space performs as a place where people can express, confront difficulties and take risks, all of which may create a condition of tension or relaxation – both of them needed for metal and psychological wellbeing of humans. They are the places where one can meet other individuals, experience diverse methods for conduct, or simply put, they are the places for « social interaction ».
In fact, public spaces such as squares are the space in which diverse groups of people, with regard to their class and ethnicity, gender and age, are brought together, with the possibility for interaction and communication (Madanipour, 1996). In other words, the key element of public spaces is to motivate and make conceivable: « the formation of the richest quality of a multi-class, multi-cultural, heterogeneous society » (Carr et al., 1992). However, we should not forget the conventional role of squares, that is, their purpose to stimulate commercial activities. Indeed, even today, there is a strong relation between the commercial activities and open spaces with plan to utilize the advantages from their essence of places filled with individuals. Moreover, public spaces can positively affect the economic value of the urban land that encompasses them. In today’s world, public spaces, with their role as economic generators, are considered as added value and multiplying factors of the speculative development (Thompson, 1998).

Table of contents :

1.1 Preface
1.2 Purpose of the Study
1.3 Research Question
1.4 Limitation and Delimitation
1.5 Structure
2 Research Methodology
2.1 Choice of Methods
2.1.1 Literature Review
2.1.2 Case Study
2.1.3 Site Analysis
2.1.4 Empirical Study Observation
2.2 Literature Review
2.2.1 Introduction
2.2.2 Conceptual Cognition of Public Space Understanding Public Spaces What is a Public Space?
2.2.3 Public Space and Society Public Space for Community Interaction Managing Public Spaces Inviting Public Life Social Interactions Social Status and Marginality
2.2.4 Defining Urban Squares Urban Space Public Space Urban Square
2.2.5 History of Urban Squares
2.2.6 Roles of an Urban Square
2.2.7 Social Interactions in Urban Squares
2.2.8 Increasing Concerns of Urban Square Why Public Spaces (Squares) are Important
2.2.9 Urban Square Design Criteria How to Make Great Public Squares
2.3 Conclusion
3 Theoretical Framework
3.1 Sociability in Public Spaces
3.1.1 Introduction
3.1.2 Sociability
3.1.3 Factors Affecting the Creation and Promotion of Sociability
3.2 Environmental Psychology
3.2.1 Environmental Perception and Spatial Cognition
3.2.2 The Psychology of Public Spaces
3.2.3 Place Identity and Place Attachment
3.2.4 Intimate Places
3.2.5 Interpersonal Distance
3.2.6 Microclimate and Place
3.3 Activities as Social Characteristics
4 Case Study
4.1 The City of Karlskrona
4.2 Stortorget
4.2.1 Backgrounds (Geographical Location and History)
4.3 Analysis of City Square with a Critical View
4.3.1 The Square Characteristics
4.3.2 Traffic and Location of Car Parks
4.3.3 Opportunities and Facilities Pavement and Paving Furniture in the Square
4.3.4 Aesthetic Quality
4.3.5 Activity
4.3.6 Human Scale
4.4 Conclusion
4.5 Solutions and Improvements
5 Site Analysis
5.1 History
5.2 Current Situation
5.3 Identity
5.4 Analysis of the Site
5.4.1 Urban Location
5.4.2 Form
5.4.3 Size
5.4.4 Accessibility
5.4.5 Function
5.4.6 Visual Quality and Environmental Facilities
5.4.7 Microclimate
5.5 Conclusion
5.6 Using of Potential for Development
5.6.1 Identity
5.6.2 Urban Location
5.6.3 Accessibility
5.6.4 Function
5.6.5 Visual Quality and Environmental Facilities
5.6.6 Microclimate
5.7 Use of Potential for Creating
5.7.1 Activity
5.7.2 Spatial Boundaries and Legibility
5.7.3 Circulation Patterns
6 Design Proposal
6.1 Conceptual Design
6.2 Concept of Design
6.3 Design Suggestions for Fisktorget
A Final Word


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