Cities around the world have marked differences in spatial form and structure. To some extent this can be attributed to cultural differences. However, the impact spatial form has on the interactions within and between residents of different neighbourhoods is unclear. This paper calls on empirical evidence collected in the Walled City of Ahmedabad, India, home to Hindu and Muslim residents in distinct neighbourhoods for centuries. Employing Space Syntax method, this paper reveals significant differences in how public spaces are spatially laid out by these two communities. Muslim neighbourhoods have a spatial structure typical of a naturally evolved settlement, where the most integrated spaces are clustered centrally. In contrast, Hindu neighbourhoods have an ‘inside-out’ pattern, with the most integrated spaces located at the neighbourhood edge. The cultural significance of these distinct forms is discussed alongside the relationship between the neighbourhoods and the rest of the city. These findings on spatial structure could have an important role in Ahmedabad’s urban planning . A better understanding of how public space relates to lifestyle and culture could contribute to improved community relations. It could also contribute to dealing successfully with communal conflict, economic development, social sustainability as part of Ahmedabad’s future urban planning strategies.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1997)
Previous research has revealed important differences in architectural evaluation between design professionals and the lay public, with such differences commonly assumed to be the result of professional education. However, few attempts have been made to determine the actual source of such differences, and there is little evidence that these are actually the result of training or education. This paper summarizes the findings of a study which set out to investigate these issues, specifically focusing on differences in architectural interpretation between the lay public, planning students, and practicing planning professionals, a group often neglected in studies of environmental aesthetics. These interpretations were examined utilizing multiple sorting and ranking procedures, with the respondents asked to sort fifteen examples of contemporary architecture according to criteria of their own choice. The results revealed both commonalities and differences in evaluation between the various groups, with the differences particularly pronounced between planners and the public. The results lend support to the view that education is a key factor in the acquisition of aesthetic values and also suggest that training encourages homogeneity of aesthetic tastes. This study thus corroborates and expands the findings of studies by other researchers by suggesting that there are significant relationships between expertise, attitude, and interpretation which may have important implications for planning practice.
Public space plays an important role in sustaining the public realm. There is a renewed interest in public space with a growing belief that while modern societies no longer depend on the town square or the piazza for basic needs, good public space is required for the social and psychological health of modern communities. New public spaces are emerging around the world and old public space typologies are being retrofitted to contemporary needs. Good public space is responsive, democratic and meaningful. However, few comprehensive instruments exist to measure the quality of public space. Based on an extensive review of literature and empirical work, this paper creates a public space index to assess the quality of public space by empirically evaluating its inclusiveness, meaningfulness, safety, comfort and pleasurability. Four public spaces in downtown Tampa, Florida, are examined using the index and several applications for public space planners, designers and managers are suggested.
Applying a gender perspective to cities reveals how spatial structure and social structure are mutually constitutive. This article reviews the ways cities have reflected and reinforced gender relations in the United States from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. First, I discuss ways in which women in industrial cities challenged the ideology of separate spheres. Next, I suggest that the post–World War II city was shaped by an era of high patriarchy similar to the architectural high modernism of the same era, and in the third section, I explore how that urban structure limited women's opportunities outside the home. In the fourth part, I examine changes in the concept of gender as it expanded beyond masculine and feminine categories to include lesbians, gays, and transgender individuals. The article ends with a review of how women's and gay rights movements, gentrification, and planning practices have shaped a more gender-neutral contemporary metropolis.
“Sense of place” is a widely discussed concept in fields as diverse as geography, environmental psychology, and art, but it has little traction in the field of public health. The health impact of place includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and aesthetic outcomes. In this article, the author introduces a sense of place as a public health construct. While many recommendations for “good places” are available, few are based on empirical evidence, and thus they are incompatible with current public health practice. Evidence-based recommendations for healthy placemaking could have important public health implications. Four aspects of the built environment, at different spatial scales—nature contact, buildings, public spaces, and urban form—are identified as offering promising opportunities for public health research, and potential research agendas for each are discussed.
Existing urban open space typologies within dense urban fabrics cannot meet society’s open space requirements in developing countries’ metropolitan cities, such as Istanbul. Because of high building densities, it is a challenging task to create new open spaces within urban cores. Developing new tools that work with the existing built environment is crucial to reveal ‘opportunity spaces’ that can act as breathing points within dense urban fabrics. In this research, a new model is developed to evaluate the 3D spatial enclosure of open spaces using basic geometrical properties and geographic information system (GIS) tools. As a case study, Istanbul’s changing spatial organization is analyzed using this model.
The city of Singapore has a very short history of 185 years. However, since 1972 , Singapore has been confronting significant transformations owing to different agendas and priorities of the city government. The present morphology of the city can be best described as the accumulation of different layers, carefully controlled and manipulated by the State through planning and design. Hence, the public spaces within the city are formed as a result of the interactions among these layers. The inclusion of each layer not only shapes the physical form of the public space, but also adds a newer set of meaning by adding new functional role within the existing fabric. This article is a result of the preliminary investigation of a research project that observes the urban transformation of Singapore from 1972 to 2005 within the framework of this layered morphology. It will delve deeper to discern and identify the layers that act as the main determinant for shaping the urban public spaces in Singapore.
Spatial synergy, as defined in this paper, is composed of characteristics of physical-spatial organization of the city which support the actions and behaviour of people, particularly in public space (supportiveness). Spatial synergy concerns the relationship between ‘things and things’, while supportiveness concerns the relationship between ‘people and things’. In the context of the city, things are buildings, technical facilities and plantings; people are the inhabitants and other users. Spatial synergy is achieved through a specific way of arranging buildings, technical facilities and plantings to form open spaces (space segments or places). It is achieved through the way these are interrelated (‘relation and communication’) within the urban fabric. It is also achieved through the degree of accessibility of all such defined places within a settlement unit (‘universal distance’). The physical-spatial characteristics that support actions and behaviour in public spaces (supportive characteristics) are simultaneously those towards which urban design should be directed, if it is to fulfil its purpose. In this context the author emphasizes the viewpoint, in contrast to the tradition of the Modern Movement, that public space has to be the decisive component in creating and developing settlement units that are habitable in the true sense.
In the last ten years environmental sociologists have started to explore the relations between human behavior and the physical environment. This study tests some of the ideas of Jane Jacobs on how neighboring and crime are affected by physical diversity in cities. While neighboring and crime are found to be related to diversity as defined by Jacobs, neighboring is not related to crime, which is also predicted by her theory. The implications for urban planning are considered.
This article provides a sociological explanation for urban “greening,” the normative practice of using everyday signifiers of nature to fix problems with urbanism. Although greening is commonly understood as a reaction against the pathologies of the industrial metropolis, such explanations cannot account for greening’s recurrence across varied social and historical contexts. Through a study of greening in Germany’s Ruhr region, a polycentric urban region that has repeatedly greened in the absence of a traditional city, I argue that greening is made possible by a social imaginary of nature as an indirect or moral good, which I call urbanized nature, that is an outcome of, and subsequently becomes a variable in, urbanization. I draw on processual accounts of urbanization and the sociology of morality to explain urbanized nature’s emergence in the Ruhr at the beginning of the twentieth century, and its use to fulfill two competing visions of urban democracy in the postwar period. I find that rather than an ideological reaction against cities, greening is an aspirational practice that can be mobilized by a range of actors in a variety of places and times. By showing how a new social imaginary made new forms of moral action possible and how those ideals were then materialized in urban space, this article draws attention to the role of cultural imaginaries in urban change and to the material consequences of moral beliefs.
Experience is conceptualised in both academic and policy circles as a more-or-less direct effect of the design of the built environment. Drawing on findings from a research project that investigated people’s everyday experiences of designed urban environments in two UK towns, this paper suggests at least two reasons why sensory encounters between individuals and built environments cannot in fact be under- stood entirely as a consequence of the design features of those environments. Drawing from empirical analysis based on surveys, ethnographic ‘walk-alongs’ and photo-elicitation interviews, we argue that distinct senses of place do depend on the sensory experiencing of built environments. However, that experiencing is significantly mediated in two ways. First, it is mediated by bodily mobility: in particular, the walking practices specific to a particular built environment. Secondly, sensory experiences are intimately intertwined with perceptual memories that mediate the present moment of experience in various ways: by multiplying, judging and dulling the sensory encounter. In conclusion, it is argued that work on sensory urban experiencing needs to address more fully the diversity and paradoxes produced by different forms of mobility through, and perceptual memories of, built environments.
While the first part of this two-part essay portrayed the bleakness of the suburban public realm in the USA, the debate over how physical planning can contribute to making it more vibrant is the subject of this second part. Eurourbanism, or the practice of looking to European cities for a design paradigm, has been criticized on the grounds that the USA has its own distinct public realm which is either non-spatial in character or is located in 'non-traditional' public spaces, such as shopping malls, in contrast with the more 'traditional' European sites such as streets and squares. But there are questions about whether the distinctive 'American public realm' is as democratic, or can offer the diversity of experience of the 'traditional' public realm. A more recent addition to the debate has been 'new urbanism' or 'neotraditionalism', whose proponents have put forth a set of planning guidelines for suburbia by drawing on design principles embodied in the traditional American small town. The essay critically evaluates these guidelines by examining their application in two neotraditional develop- ments and proposes a research agenda to move the debate ahead.
Drawing on some results of a broader research project, this paper aims to discuss the relation between urban design and creative dynamics in cultural districts. Appropriation and production of public spaces in three ‘creative quarters’ are analyzed, through a photographic approach, covering material aspects, human appropriation and symbolic dimensions in these areas. Discussing the boundaries of public spaces and their relevance for creative activity (through the conviviality and sociability they promote), it is argued that urban design characteristics and specific place morphologies significantly influence the appropriation of these areas and the development of specific creative dynamics.
This paper discusses how the structure of urban public open space is created and interpreted in the mental image of its users in the case of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It reveals how spatially continuous urban open space is physically interconnected into the overall spatial structure of the city and how it is defined by a variety of the built form components. The question is how such space is present in the mental image of users and whether and how such space is structured into sub-units by its users. The paper aims to establish what its dimensions are, how it is divided into separate units at a mental level, and what the perceived hierarchical relations between such units are, in terms of spatial, functional and intangible characteristics of space that conditions this perception. It is argued that both the overall spatial structure of the city and its constituent components play an important role in how users conceptualize urban open public space.
This paper proposes an essentially new theory of urban space based on information theory and the laws of optics. The use of urban space is linked to the information field generated by surrounding surfaces, and on how easily the information can be received by pedestrians. Historical building exteriors usually present a piecewise concave, fractal aspect, which optimizes visual and acoustical signals that transmit information content. Successful urban spaces also offer tactile information from local structures meant for standing and sitting. The total information field in turn determines the optimal positioning of pedestrian paths and nodes. This complex interaction between human beings and the built environment, incredibly neglected in our times, explains why so many historical urban spaces provide an emotionally nourishing environment.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2002)
Robert Gifford, Donald W Hine, Werner Muller-Clemm, Kelly T. Shaw
Architects and laypersons experience buildings quite differently; this study investigated the physical and cognitive underpinnings of these differences. Laypersons and practicing architects assessed the global. aesthetic quality and six key cognitive properties (complexity, clarity, friendliness, originality, meaningfulness, and ruggedness) of 42 large contemporary buildings, and 59 physical features of each building were independently scored. Lens model analyses revealed how these physical features are interpreted differently by the two groups, which apparently leads them to experience different cognitive properties, which in turn leads to different aesthetic conclusions. However, the results also suggest how architects and laypersons might better understand each other.