Research and Publications

New book chapters on public space by UQ|UP team

The Companion to Public Space (Routledge), edited by Vikas Mehta and Danilo Palazzo, draws together an outstanding multidisciplinary collection of specially commissioned chapters that offer the state of the art in the intellectual discourse, scholarship, research, and principles of understanding in the construction of public space.

UQ|UP team members have contributed two chapters:

Chapter 14: Global homogenization of public space? A comparison of “Western” and “Eastern” contexts

Tigor Panjaitan, Dorina Pojani, Sébastien Darchen

The nature of public space and the challenges that it faces are, for the most part, formulated based on observations in developed Western countries. Through a literature review and our research in Southeast Asian cities, we argue that theories on public space that apply to the West do not necessarily fit the context of “Eastern” cities. Traditionally, differences in the public sphere between Western and Eastern cultures have been physically translated into specific features and characters in the respective public spaces. However, we also recognize and explore converging trends in the nature of public space in both the West and the East, which are due to neoliberalism and privatization, coupled with globalization.

Chapter 20: Private, hybrid, and public spaces: Urban design assessment, comparisons, and recommendations

Els Leclercq, Dorina Pojani

This study undertakes a systematic visual assessment of three different projects in Liverpool (UK), which are ostensibly public. The case studies include an entirely private development, a public-private partnership, and a public project taken over by a community organization. The analysis reveals that, while lacking in ‘publicness,’ privatized spaces can be quite popular with users because they possess high urban design quality and offer engaging activities. Hence, the authors argue in favor of expanding the notion of public space to include spaces produced through private finance and planning. However, ‘publicness’ should be preserved by programming spaces and setting aesthetic and access rules that do not override values such as diversity and inclusivity. Designers can enhance the public nature of these spaces by allowing for greater flexibility in use and more opportunities for spontaneous and temporary appropriation. This is crucial in order to safeguard space that is open to the public as an arena for democratic participation, deliberation, and action. Another issue is what the scope of surveillance – including public or private CCTV cameras, police/security officers, and controversial facial recognition devices – should be. This issue must be the subject of serious public debate and engagement, which designers could facilitate.