Importance of Public Spaces in Cities

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1233 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: May 19, 2020

Words: 1233|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: May 19, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Discussions and Results
  3. Inferences
  4. An Examination of the Use of Urban Entertainment Centers as Catalyst for Downtown Revitalization
  5. Methodology
  6. Discussions and Results
  7. Baltimore, Maryland
    Denver, Colorado
  8. Works Cited


Everyone in this world irrespective of their culture, status, age or background inevitably use public spaces but in today’s era the quality of public spaces had been disregarded and considered merely as “gaps between buildings”(Gaventa, S. 2006, p7). However, recently public spaces are regaining their identity as an integral part of the cities. For instance, European cities like Barcelona and Copenhagen have successfully emerged their public spaces setting an example for other cities across the globe. This paper aims to stimulate on the importance of public spaces in a city through edification of concept, value, significance, challenges and constraints of a public space and setting up a criteria and design approach for a successful public space design.

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Discussions and Results

Concept of public space is a space that is social and open for all irrespective of the gender, ideologies, culture, age and also enables a co-existence of all categories of people with democratic approach. Public spaces are dynamic and can be used differently by different people. Hajer M. and Reijndorp A. (2001,p10), explains that “Meaningful public spaces are created by people with expression of their attitudes and claiming it in their way and using it for their own purposes”. A public space acts as a stage where the public plays both the roles of actor and spectator and also provides a platform for new experiences, discoveries and adventures. Value and Significance of public space can be understood by Aristotle’s famous phrase “Man is by nature a social animal” and fears to be in isolation and for this interaction foundation of public spaces are laid.

“Public spaces are the primary sites of public culture, window into the city’s soul. “(Zukin, S. 1995, p259), acting as a gateway for cultural and social development. With impact on cultural development public spaces also plays an important role in the development of an individual. Individual participation in urban cultures is beneficial for one’s personal reflection and uniqueness of one’s personality in the society. These places acts as a prime location for tourists to feel the culture of the city and in turn enhances the economy. Challenges and constraints of a public space are mainly crime, deterioration, violence and misuse. For utilizing the public space to the highest capacity, ensuring safety of its users has to be assured. Tough part is to maintain the democratic character of the public space by filtering the unenviable activities.

The battle of safety between ‘public’ and the ‘space’ is the real challenge. Criteria and Design approach for a successful public space is contextual and must be manageable. Public spaces must be diverse, aesthetically appealing, safe, accessible in its own ways that it tempts people to experience the place. Usage of spaces depends on the minute aspects such as spacing, zoning, pattern and so on. Taking an example of tompkins square park which is being shattered after the violent confrontation; got renovated and became successful just by the zoning and distribution of paces. Public spaces may relly on layout of the separate spaces but integrated interrelationship of these separate spaces leads to its success.


  • Public spaces restores the identity of a city and also offers great economical, cultural and social values which in turn enhances the lifestyle of the society and individual.
  • Public spaces are inherent and so is its use, design of one public space cannot be mimicked into the making of another public space just because it is successfully funtioning.
  • The design approach for these types of spaces depends on the user’s lifestyle, culture, and surrounding context that’s why it is vital to remember the design of these spaces are site specific.
  • There must be a balance in this type of spaces and restrictions should not hamper the democratic behaviour of these spaces.

An Examination of the Use of Urban Entertainment Centers as Catalyst for Downtown Revitalization

American downtowns were never in a need of revitalization with bustling of activities, centre of buisness and religion, but after World War II, collapse in transportation and other administrative things, formation of suburbs took place resulting in a city with sudden drop in population and economy and soon the downtowns became the dead part of the city. A fight began to bring people back to downtown through a variety of attractions and activities by breaking down the downtown in different activity centres. This paper aims at studying the importance of public realm with diverse activities in revitalizing the downtown as a catalyst.


The research began with the study of history of Downtown in America, it’s decline and renewal attempts in past. Success of Public Realms were studied and issues related to its decline with the help of case studies of two cities – Baltimore and Denver which helped in setting an example of Public Realm with diverse activities as a trend in America.

Discussions and Results

For making the Downtown active once again, Pedestrian malls were setup to improve quality of open space and pedestrian experience (Pearl street, City of Boulder). Main agenda of pedestrian mall was more than a mall, rather than singular purpose of selling, a pageant of events must be there. The cultural centres in Downtown was one such resource that the newly made suburbs lacked, which were marked as the visitors experience through art, music, theatre and history.

The acceptance of Downtown as cultural centres marked the beginning of such public realm. Entertainment was a great magnet for returning visitors and attracted new restaurants, themes and so on. Soon the Hard Rock Cafe in London became a destination with amalgamation of food with pop culture. Soon Downtown was viewed as cultural destination. Creation of festival market place combines the trends of cultural district, convention centre and entertainment. They had mix of local speciality stores, food and entertainment, history and themes. These public spaces soon named as Urban Entertainment Centre. The architecture of such places are vibrant, invigorating and must be a right balance of retail and entertainment. Successful public spaces are those which are designed in such a way that it brings different types of people together for cross-cultural interaction.

Baltimore, Maryland

In 20th century, Baltimore reached nearly one million and then the decline happened due to old ports. Harbor place, developed as the festival marketplace and consisted of three pavilions of retail space, it marked the success of Baltimore’s waterfront and then cafes, bookstores, gallery, shopping place, port discovery, night clubs made the inner harbor as destination.

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Denver, Colorado

The town has been a boomtown since it was founded; Denver faced a decline when its oil economy collapsed. Larimar square, a Victorian section of town was developed and art galleries, restaurants, and nightclubs were added and further pavilions for shopping and entertainment were developed in 16th street mall. This innovation gave a new life to the streets of Denver and made it a top tourist attraction.


  • The combination of history, retail and unique architecture could be an effective tool for the revitalization of a town.
  • These centres must be designed as a part of the city rather than a stand-alone destination.
  • The connection to the surrounding and the link with tha context plays an important role in designing such projects.
  • People of all age groups can find then a destination to take a break from everyday life with separate spaces yet integrated with each other.
  • There is no specific standards for such public spaces instead such spaces are specific to the location.
  • This type of public spaces blur between shopping mall and the city street which gives aa sense of ‘Being in a city”.

Works Cited

  1. Gaventa, S. (2006). Gaps between buildings: Why public spaces matter. Journal of Urban Design, 11(1), 21-36.
  2. Hajer, M., & Reijndorp, A. (2001). In search of new public domain: Analysis and strategy. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.
  3. Zukin, S. (1995). The culture of cities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  4. American Planning Association. (2012). Public spaces for all: A guide to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. Washington, DC: Author.
  5. Carmona, M., Heath, T., Oc, T., & Tiesdell, S. (2010). Public places - Urban spaces: The dimensions of urban design. London: Routledge.
  6. Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for people. Washington, DC: Island Press.
  7. Whyte, W. H. (1980). The social life of small urban spaces. Washington, DC: The Conservation Foundation.
  8. Gehl Architects. (2013). How to study public life. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.
  9. Jacobs, J. (1961). The death and life of great American cities. New York: Random House.
  10. Project for Public Spaces. (2020). Placemaking: A guide to transforming public spaces. New York: Project for Public Spaces.
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Importance Of Public Spaces In Cities. (2020, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Importance Of Public Spaces In Cities.” GradesFixer, 19 May 2020,
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