Rethinking Urban Design Processes in Framing Public Places

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This paper addresses the process of transformation of urban spaces and the contribution of urban design to framing public life. It manifests the multiplicities of interests towards good urban form, and people’s experiences and engagements, as outcomes. The study acknowledges places as process and meanings, which require ‘relational’ and ‘contextual’ analysis. Reviewing the design processes, and the unintended consequences in associating use value highlights that engagement with place as an experiential quality needs high level of publicness that can be achieved at some levels within ‘meaningful urban design’. However, the gap between experiential qualities and spatial aspects, which influence the meanings of places, should be sought in the place-shaping process: intentions and outcomes to find out how public spaces are: intended to be, physically built and socially used and experienced; in becoming places. The study area is the regeneration of the waterfront in Western Harbour, in Malmö, Sweden. By interviewing the key actors in planning and design process, and reviewing documents the paper highlights that the public spaces were not into focus as visual aspects of place However, the reality of everyday use in public space unfolded other qualities: that public space can be a catalyst for regeneration process. The study revealed the urban design potentials for place-making and suggests rethinking about design practice to act temporal and associated in the long-term process in cities. It highlights that a meaningful design should also concern the ‘scale’ of relations in space and time; and potentials of planning in place-making.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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