The given article has been taken from the European Journal of sustainable development talks about the evaluation of different space types in terms of the Public dimension. It throws light on different kinds of public spaces, the level of publicness it holds, and how privatization is taking over the public realms.
The impression of the city depends extensively on the quality of public spaces it houses. Planning these spaces should be a dominant rule rather than being just a seldomly found trait. Publicly accessible spaces take the front seat during the construction of a city. It fills the urban gaps with life, shapes the community, and ties the diverse neighbourhoods.
Variegated and lively urban spaces are more equal, prosperous and make the society even more democratic. Common features as mentioned in this article emphasizes social life, inclusive of various activities, convenient to use, and is unique to the location. Adding on to this, public spaces play an important role in the physical and mental health of the citizens. It allows them a space of recreation and instills a sense of belonging. Well, planning public arenas facilitates political mobilization and helps to prevent crime.
The concept of ‘two-way street’ is influential. It explains that people spend more time on the streets if they feel safe and the street can be considered safer if there are more people on it. It is acceptable when said that the definition of public space is subjective for divergent genres of the public. However, the keywords that are debatable here are: inclusivity, exclusivity, visible and accessible.
The idea of public spaces has been a prehistoric one. Beginning with the Greek agora which in turn influenced another parallel called the Roman forums. Cathedrals were once the main institution of growing cities and medieval market squares were found in close vicinity. Carefully planned and symmetrically designed Roman squares were the next step towards designing the public spaces. The era of modernism saw public spaces as a part of organized systems.
Today we can see the public spaces in contemporary cities are under the pressure of capital and privatization which is causing the decline of the public realm. Finding a space that is accessible for everyone without considering the religion caste creed gender and without any restriction is at most important. However, it is very difficult to define the publicness of public spaces as mentioned in the given article.
On a personal note, here are some ways or characteristics, or traits that I believe a public space must comprise of.
- Blending of diverse realms of built environment like public commercial and residential.
- Active interaction between the ground level of buildings sidewalks and streets.
- Public spaces must influence the social dimension and should play the role of people aggregator.
- High-scale and high-density construction harms people‘s health. Maintaining the human scale of that particular zone is the key factor.
- Public-oriented lighting in public spaces is a safety gesture that facilitates public occupancy.
- Designing public spaces should follow a local approach that also encourages small-scale entrepreneurs.
- It must follow the principle of a complete street and shared spaces.
- A good amount of vegetation can help in humanizing the City and attract the citizens for outdoor activities.
Amidst constant transformation, the importance of public spaces for quality life will always remain constant. Special integration methods are some ways for the social inclusion of migrants and improve the urban setups.
This article talks about the case study of Duzce city centre which is located between two metropolitan cities. After facing the enormous earthquakes this city got its tag as a province. It was then the use of economic investments and immigration of various migrants that made the city a lively one. This was followed by governmental initiatives to set up industries and economic sectors to allow the employment of its residents.
There were new urban spaces built for example shopping malls and other recreational facilities. Some were privately owned while some were publicly owned spaces.
However, a major big backdrop in designing this province was that claiming the malls to be public spaces was a completely wrong intention. It wasn’t accessible to the below-poverty-line class. Also, the spaces which were barren or abandoned during the earthquakes were not utilized or designed in any way.
In a province, such abandoned open spaces mark the bad incidents that were faced by the city, and as it does not enhance the beauty of this place. The privately-owned public spaces were seen to be more visited and utilized as compared to the publicly owned spaces which resulted in the decline of the special quality. It marked insufficient and unsatisfactory management qualities and lack of safety from the user’s perspective.
As Jane Jacobs rightly mentioned that enhancing and designing public spaces is very important to sustain them.
Thus, as a designer, we need to focus on not creating negative public spaces but focus more on how Spaces can act and behave positively in terms of ecological and social sustainability.