This paper analyses the importance of commercial signs in contemporary cities, and explores the theoretical concepts that might be helpful in understanding the operation of commercial signage controls in historic places. The focus is on issues that cluster around theories of consumer culture, as well as on the practices of city centre management, city marketing and urban tourism. The discussion is predominantly concerned with commercial city centres because these are places where different functions and meanings coexist. They are often places where different commercial and non-commercial interests have to be managed or reconciled. City centres are also public areas where human experience is given meaning and valorised through signs, symbols and patterns of behaviour, which result from a combination of physical and symbolic factors of the built environment. In many cases, the commercial city centre
coincides with the historic core of a city, and the challenge of the local authority is to combine all functions with the preservation of historic buildings and places. At the end, this paper discusses how forms of aesthetic control over commercial signage can be applied to preserve local identity and stimulate commercial and touristic activities simultaneously.
There are a series of discrete but related critiques of the contemporary public space situation, and it was these that the first part of this paper identified and organized. These drew on different scholarly traditions to highlight the key tensions at the heart of the contemporary public space debate. It revealed that critiques of public space could broadly be placed into two camps: those who argue that public space is over-managed, and those who argue that it is under-managed. This second part of the paper begins by arguing that both over and under-management critiques result in the same end, a homogenization of public space, although these outcomes may not be as stark as many of the critics would have us believe. What is clear is that the critiques reveal a range of public space types and means of classification. These are used in a final section of this paper to suggest a new typology of public space, one based on how public space is managed.
This two-part paper draws upon different scholarly traditions to highlight the key tensions at the heart of the contemporary public space debate. Critiques of public space can broadly be placed into two camps, those who argue that public space is over- managed, and those who argue that it is under-managed. This over-simplifies a complex discourse on public space that this paper aims to unpack, but nevertheless provides a useful lens through which to view the critiques. In fact there are a series of discrete but related critiques of the contemporary public space situation, and it is these that the first part of this paper identifies and organizes. In so doing it also reveals a range of public space types that are used in the second part of the paper to suggest a new typology of public space.
Rianne Van Melik, Irina Van Aalst & Jan Van Weesep
Current projects to upgrade public spaces in Western cities seek to produce secured space by improving safety and decrease feelings of fear, and to produce themed space by promoting urban entertainment or fantasy. This study examines how ‘fear’ and ‘fantasy’ influence urban design and management of two public spaces in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It traces social antecedents for the development of secured and themed public space, such as a growing differentiation of urban lifestyles, and proposes a new technique for analysing public spaces. The case studies differ in design and management: one is secured, the other themed. However, each secured space contains an element of ‘fantasy’, and each themed space an element of ‘fear’.
Gulf cities have witnessed rapid urban growth where new migrant communities from various cultural backgrounds
have been evolving over the last two decades. This paper explores perceptions of liveable urban environments in
Qatar’s capital city, Doha. An attitude survey of 280 migrant professionals from different cultural backgrounds
engaged in the high service sector was conducted. A profile for each cultural group including westerners, middle
easterners, Indians and Southeast Asians was developed to analyse the way in which the key liveability factors are
perceived. Factors were classified into two overarching categories: urban life and urban spaces. Urban life category
included aspects that pertain to traffic and movement experience, residential satisfaction, shopping experience,
and satisfaction regarding leisure and service spaces. Urban space category included attractiveness, iconicity and
familiarity, which were attitudinally explored in four public open spaces. The inquiry has uncovered a number of
concerns related to traffic experience, housing quality, parking spaces, school facilities and shopping opportunities.
This may stymie the city’s global attractiveness success on the global stage while warranting the need for addressing
liveability as a part of future development plans.
For much of the last quarter of the 20th century debates on the state of public spaces in the UK concentrated on issues of neglect and abandonment. New public spaces, increasingly developed by private developers were of equal concern, seen simultaneously as creating privatized, socially exclusive enclaves and characterless ‘anywhere’ regeneration schemes, filled with the same retail outlets, coffee shops and anonymous pieces of public art. This paper addresses this latter concern of homogenization, examining the dynamics behind it and exploring whether local diversity can thrive in the face of such pressure. The paper further reports on a research project that was conducted on a series of prominent public spaces in North East England. The results of this study suggest that the spaces studied are far from passive recipients of global processes. Not only does the quality and quantity of public space often seem to have improved in the recent past, but that long standing locally significant traditions are thriving and new ones are being developed. So, while homogenization in retailing may be significant and harmful to some traditional shopping streets, it is not necessarily damaging the social and cultural lives of the public spaces in our towns and cities to the degree that may be expected.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2015)
The global public spaces literature has been critical of contemporary manifestations of public space on a number of grounds. This article reports on a research project that attempted to gauge the validity of these critiques through an examination of new and regenerated public spaces in London. The article introduces the dominant critiques around public space before outlining the mixed-methods approach used to interrogate them. The key findings from this work are summarised before the nature of contempo- rary public space is re-theorised in a more avowedly positive and pragmatic manner than is often the case, one that celebrates a return of a public spaces paradigm through tentatively advancing a new narrative and set of normative principles for public space generation. The work concludes that a more balanced view of public space is required, one that recognises the multiple complex types, roles and audiences for public spaces in cities today.
Journal of the American Planning Association (2001)
We worry these days that public space, indeed the public realm, is shrinking. This essay examines the underlying causes of such discontent, in the context of historic and recent transformations in social values and public ethos. Seemingly, three major trends - privatization, globalization, and the communications revolution - will continue to shape the future demand and supply of public space. Planners must anticipate the effects of such trends, but also focus on the concept of public life, which encompasses both private and public realms. The article concludes by reviewing the role that planners may play in advancing the cause of public space and the opportunities and initiatives for the future.