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Evaluation of Publicness in the Public Space

Author: 
Hyun-Suk Min

Amid the growing public interest in urban life quality, the perspective on the publicness of space is gradually changing from being open to the public, rather than a closed space for private and individual purposes, into sharing the societal benefits it provides with people as users of public spaces. Danish architect, Jan Gehl, defined the societal benefits of public spaces as those that promote various social interactions and relaxation for urban life enjoyment rather than activities that are in line with achieving a specific objective. In this research evaluation indicators were developed to assess the publicness of space, based on the physical conditions of public spaces which elicit various societal interactions and relaxations for enjoying urban life. To develop these indicators, a field study was conducted on 100 of the most-pedestrian-friendly public spaces located throughout Seoul. Prior to the field study, the checklist entries were selected from the previous researches which evaluated the physical environment and psychological convenience of the public spaces. Based on the functional connection with Seoul public map developed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the checklist entries were composed using actual measurement items to make an application to any sort of public spaces and generate consistent data regardless of the researcher’s judgment or on-site conditions at the time of the investigation. Based on the field study evaluation indicators which influence promotion of various activities among people, were derived through Structural Equation Modeling in view of comfort, attractiveness and accessibility. The evaluation indicators were mapped, using GIS to aid the analysis and comparison between the individual public spaces. The individual public spaces were then categorized into 8 types, following a comprehensive evaluation using these indicators. Suggestions were made to enhance the various social interactions through application of the improvement directions appropriately to each type of public spaces.