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The assessment, planning and design of small public spaces in urban areas

The assessment, planning and design of small public spaces in urban areas

Li, Ying (2016) The assessment, planning and design of small public spaces in urban areas. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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Jane Jacobs wrote (1989, p. 92), of four similar squares near City Hall in Philadelphia, that only Rittenhouse Square was ‘beloved and successful’. Her explanation was its diversity of pedestrian generators. Other theorists, including Hillier (1999) and Gehl (2010), have given equally confident explanations of why some spaces are more popular than others. Small urban public open spaces (POS) are a problem in China as well as in the west. But POS in China tend to have different origins and to be used in different ways. This was an aspect of the research. In China there were few POS before the 20th century and a great many have been made since 1978. My research set out to develop and test a systematic assessment method which could be used (1) to test theories about POS use and use intensity (2) to assess the character and quality of individual POS in urban areas. In addition to published data, the assessment method uses criteria drawn from theorists and includes assessments of use intensity made by the researcher. The assessment method was tested on 100 small urban POS in London and Tianjin. It was found that the best theories for predicting use intensity were those which grew from empirical research, rather than from armchair theorizing. Further investigation revealed that although no one criterion has universal validity, but that particular criteria can be used to explain the popularity of particular POS. The assessment method could therefore be used to help with the problems that: (1) in China, most POS are surprisingly unpopular (2) in Europe, some POS are less popular than expected. Use intensity is the main criterion used to indicate popularity but it is recognized that other indicators (e.g. questionnaires) could be used.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: public open spaces; urban design; architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2020 22:51

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