Patterns of Behavior in Urban Public Spaces

Nasar, Jack L., & Yurdakul, A. Rengin

Nasar, J., & Yurdakul, A. (1990). PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR IN URBAN PUBLIC SPACES. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 7(1), 71-85.


This study examined patterns of activity in street-side public spaces in one city. Eye-level videotape was employed to document public activity, characteristics of the population and characteristics of the downtown street-side surroundings. A scheme for organizing the data is presented. Patterns of use, disaggregated across activities, groups and time periods were derived, and limitations and implications are discussed.

Main finding
The study demonstrates the value of monitoring and recording patterns of activities in public space. The distribution of activities along the block were significantly concentrated at bus stops. Vendors and peddlers were most often located at busy street corners. The curb was distributed into three parts - wallside, walkers and street-side - with stationary activities focused on the wallside and walking concentrated in the middle. Distinct preferences for sittable spaces and shade for stationary activities were also documented.

Description of method used in the article
The study was conducted in a four-square-block section of the Central Business District Columbus, OH. The pedestrian street-side environment was conceptualized as consisting of four components- a commercial or private component (property within lot lines), a public component line to the street), an information component (private or public signs), and a transportation component (supports for circulation within and through the setting) - for mapping physical features. Behavior was recorded on videotape at eye-level from a car passing through the area at curbline and filming each side of the street separately. This study used a limited sample of observations.

Of practical use

Organising categories