Following history, planned settlement was on the priority for humans which kept getting better and better. As a matter of fact, the evolution of living situations led up to the public spaces. Before the thought of space serving the public, it was more towards politics, environment, cultural things, and the multipurpose quality of space from early civilization to the present day. The definition of public open space changed with the change in dynamics of the society. For example, an open courtyard has always been a part of ancient monuments.

History of public open spaces - Sheet1
Xi’an City Sports Park_©Jin Zhang

Hannah Arendt, a political theorist, surveyed the records of human activity in ancient societies. In her opinion, Greek society was divided into two aspects; public realm and private realm. Realm is something accessible for the users and creates harmonious and socially inclusive communities. The public and private realm are segregated by the activities they carry. In the past, open spaces like these were viewed as far-reaching, huge, nothing special in a particular area that is open to a wide range of activities. These spaces were utilized by neighbouring communities as festival activities, market place, occasional playing fields, religious activities and many more. 

History of public open spaces - Sheet2
The Bean at the Millennium Park Campus, Chicago_©
History of public open spaces - Sheet3
The New York High Line_©Wikipedia

The beginning of public spaces takes place in Greece. The Greek Agora was a public realm which was located right at the center of the polis and acted as a focal point of the town. The name Agora means a market place. The area worked as a social gathering space, maket, and for political gatherings also. Like every other public space, the Greek Agora had the best representation of social, political and economical importance. It was a very sacred place and the importance of the place revolved around religion. A sacred road run right in the middle of Athens which serves as the travel route for the religious panathenaic festival, held every four years to honor the goddess Athena.

History of public open spaces - Sheet4
The Greek Agora_©Wikipedia

When the Agora was constructed, it was surrounded by private houses which were demolished by Peisistratus in the 6th century and instead built his house inside it. Soon the Agora turned into a government centre and was considered as the centre for democracy. Public buildings like church, community centres and the temple of Hephaestus were added. The site was turned down by many along the way, the Athenians were however irrepressible and rebuilt it and the most well-preserved temple in Greece is found at the ancient Agora.

The Greek Agora_©
The Greek Agora_©
The Roman Forum_©
The Roman Forum_©

The Foru, public square in Rome, was originally a marketplace. During the Roman empire, characteristics of the Forum were influenced by the Greek acropolis and Agora. It was rectangular in shape, in the proportions of 2:3, and was encircled by porticoes and had temples, basilicas, shops, and markets which brought about a mix of the community with a touch of religious texture. Additionally, it housed other huge sporting facilities like the theatre and public showers. It was home to curia as well as comitium, meaning the city board gatherings and political gatherings individually. As per Roman authentic custom, the Forum’s starting points are associated with the union between Romulus, the primary lord of Rome controlling the Palatine Hill, and his adversary, Titus Tatius, who involved the Capitoline Hill.

The Roman Forum_©Julain Elliott
The Roman Forum_©Julain Elliott

Land involved in historic towns relates no more to unique purposes only. With few special cases, there has been a shift towards modem, proficient and valuable land utilizes; towards activities that create a high measure of vehicle traffic. Much has been finished to make the conservation of these towns the heartbeat of modern life. Be that as it may, planners of public open spaces don’t give sufficient consideration to the choices among particular and versatile spaces. As a matter of fact, impacted by the useful mentality of our hundred years, designers will generally practice, even overspecialize these spaces.

Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, 2012_©Wikipedia
Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, 2012_©Wikipedia

ln certain spots, there are likewise semiflexible spaces, generally covered, managing functional and formal purposes. In medium-sized urban communities, where a significant measure of design legacy gets by, there is a pattern toward the recovery of roads and public open spaces. There is a developing gathering of good experts in the field of reclamation work, and there are a few genuine instances of how these sorts of issues can be sufficiently settled.

Kinder Park in Mexicali_©Lorena Darquea
Kinder Park in Mexicali_©Lorena Darquea


  2. ‌Wikipedia. (2020). Agora. [online] Available at:
  3. ‌Discover Walks Blog. (2021). Top 8 Facts about the Ancient Agora of Athens. [online] Available at:
  4. ‌Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Roman Forum. [online] Wikipedia. Available at:
  5. Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.). Know about the history of the ancient buildings of the Roman Forum, Rome. [online] Available at:

Riya is an architectural designer, planner and thinker, currently working in New Delhi. She believes having a delightful livable environment irrespective of the area is what everybody must-have, since part of human psychology effects by what we see and what we feel by our senses.