Historic Definitions of Public Space: Inspiration for High Quality Public Space

By Na Xing and Kin Wai Michael Siu.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Public space is an indispensable element of urban space and urban life. It enriches the spaces of the city and encourages the establishment of activities, and in turn flourishes the everyday lives of the residents. As a part of the urban landscape, public space contains centuries-old history in both the Western and Eastern world. Its definitions are also comparatively different. Including the Greek agora, Roman forum, medieval market places, pizzas, residential squares and American city parks, all these historic identities and physical places have become the foundation stone for the requirement of today’s urban space qualities. Although public space is receiving increasing emphasis in urban landscapes, with today’s over-development of modern cities, public space is constantly being swallowed up by business and political factors. At the same time, due to the different urban development structures, public space has its own natures and characteristics under Chinese culture. By reviewing several critical writings on public space, this paper examines the historic definitions of public space based on the timeline in various places. Then, taking Hong Kong (i.e. a modern city significantly affected by Chinese and Western cultures) as a case study, this paper attempts to analyse the changing natures and characteristics of public space in this modern city. It then further identifies some key concerns for policymakers and professional to plan, design and manage public space which can provide a high quality of life for city dwellers.

Keywords: Historic Definition, Public Space, Quality of Live, Policy, Design, Management

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 11, pp.39-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.906MB).

Na Xing

Design Researcher & PhD Student, Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Xing Na graduated in Tsinghua University. During her study, she worked as the design assistant in the Tsinghua Inclusive Design Lab. She was the Project Manager of the Look and Image Design Department for 2008 Beijing Olympic Committee. She is now studying her PhD degree in the School of Design of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is also working as a design researcher in the Public Design Lab of the School that her research focuses on public spaces and facilities.

Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu

Professor & Public Design Lab Leader, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Kin Wai Michael Siu is Professor and Leader of the Public Design Lab of the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has been a visiting professor at universities in Chinese mainland and South Korea. He was the Visiting Scholar of the University of Cambridge, Fulbright Scholar of the MIT, AISA Fellow of the University of Singapore, and Visiting Scholar of the UC Berkeley. He has served the Hong Kong Government’s advisory committees and professional bodies as members. He owns more than 40 design patents in the United States, Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. His research interests include design culture, public design, universal and inclusive design, and user-reception. He has published numerous papers in humanity and design journals.


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