Matej Nikšič & Georgia Butina Watson
Nikšič, M. & Watson, G. B. (1). Urban public open space in the mental image of users: the elements connecting urban public open spaces in a spatial network. Journal of Urban Design, 23(6), 859–882. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13574809.2017.1377066
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.
The research finds that urban public open space is structured into sub-units at the mental level, "perceptual micro-ambiences", which are influenced by the physical characteristics of space (the built edge of open urban space and elements that stop the views in space), functional organization of space (the organization of motorized traffic and areas reserved for pedestrians), and meaning/symbolic dimension of space. The case studies reveal that "perceptual micro-ambiences" are perceived as closer to each other when they are visually and physically connected, functionally supplementing each other, physically close, frequently used, and/or similar in direct sonic and olfactory stimuli.
Description of method used in the article
Two public open spaces - Prešeren Square and Zvezda Park - in the city centre of Ljubljana were chosen for research. Voluntary participants (n=30) were interviewed individually at their residence with the help of morphological map of the case study and a standard set of questions. The data gathered was digitized in Arc View GIS and Microsoft Excel.
Of practical use