Conceptualization and typology of contemporary urban public space

“Public space” is the subject of a growing academic literature from the full range of social science and humanities disciplines. Each discipline sees public space through a different lens, and with particular interests and concerns to the fore. Political scientists, for example, focus on democratization and on rights in public space; geographers on sense-of-place and placelessness; legal scholars on the ownership of and access in public places; sociologists on human interactions and social exclusion etc. The result is a diverse array of multi-disciplinary approaches towards understanding public space. Furthermore, the combined term "public space" with the words "space" and “the public" and its association with words like "place" and "people" has added to the uncertainty and complexity of this concept. Acknowledging its diversity and differences, the first aim of this paper is to try to shed some light into the meaning and the complicated nature of public space, and giving a new definition from it. The second aim is to present a model for typology of contemporary public space, with regard to the extent of the concept, and according to the new definition of public space.
The nature of research is fundamental theoretical. Using text reading, the complex nature of public space has been studied in different contexts and then with a deductive approach, a new definition and a theoretical model have been reached.
Results And Discussion
The existence of these various understandings of public space from multidisciplinary perspectives creates much confusion around the meaning of the terms public space and publicness of space. Notion of public space is such a “slippery term” because first, on a theoretical level, there are so many conflicting and confusing multi-disciplinary views and definitions in the matter. Second, on a practical level, the “real”, built public places are complex socio-cultural, political and environmental products of a social group. And third, individual level, public space is also a subjective, personal construct. A space can be public to me in Tehran but not to others in other cities. Due to different concepts of public space that was discussed and the uncertainty of the constituent words associated with the term, as a public, space, place and people, classification of public space would be too wide and variety. In an overview of the literature on public space the main areas of discussion on that subject can be grouped into 5 categories: One of the key features of public space is the Space “ownership” issue. Various authors identified ownership as one of the important elements for publicity space. These authors believe growing phenomenon of privatization of urban space lead to restriction of the public realm cities. Second class on the subject of public space is attention to the physical form of a public place. In several of the definitions and conceptualisations investigated, public space is associated with real physical urban places. Third class topic comes mainly from the sociological and anthropological public space literature and refers to the use of public space, or in other words, to their “animation”. A fourth strand of research is related to public space as the arena where the fragile relation between freedom and controlunfolds. Many authors consider the quality of a public place of being a democratic arena for public life as fundamental for its publicness. A fifth and last common theme is concerned with the sociality of space. In this field, the role of public space in public life, Attention the decline in traditional public spaces, as well as the deterioration and even the loss of public nature will be discussed.
Due to this, in this paper, we present a new definition of public space including a wide range of urban spaces. In other words, the first output of research is a new definition of urban public space. Definition is as follows: Contemporary public space is a general term including public places, physical public spaces, civic public spaces covering range from traditional public spaces (such as streets and squares) and new public spaces (such as passages, coffee, etc.). These spaces lead to the formation of urban public sphere. The publicness of public space is different given the historical conditions of society, political governance, economic conditions (political and market forces), cultural traditions and personal experience of space. An urban public space as open, positive, inclusive, accessible, sociable and compatible (softer), the amount of publicity it would be more. In this definition, the three fundamental principles of contemporary public space are taken into consideration: The changing nature of public space; publicness challenges of public space; And to consider historical and political conditions, cultural traditions, economic forces as well as the personal experience of the space in different communities. According to this definition, a new model is proposed for typology of contemporary public spaces (second output). This model is composed from six criteria. Each criterion at the highest level (level of publicness) has its antithesis at lowest level (level of private). At this model, moving down from the upper levels, amount of publicness of public space is reduced and added to the privatization of public space. In other words, at low levels, the quality of public space in terms of its functions is reduced. This means that the level of "publicness" of public space has been reduced, and the level of "privatization" of public space is added. However, each of these types of public space, depending on the situation prevailing in various countries (third principle in public space new definition) will be somewhat a space publicness functions.
Geographical Urban Planning Research, Volume:2 Issue: 4, 2015
435 to 464  
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