The publicness of space: exclusionary control of public and semi-public space

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In many contemporary North American cities, the boundaries and definition of public and private space have become ambiguous, a trend that is encouraged by the increasing privatization of the urban environment. Privatization of urban space is increasingly diminishing the social role of public space, and threatening the public realm. The ambiguity resulting from privatization is particularly apparent in the downtown pedestrian environment where privatized semi-public pedestrian environments threaten the concept as well as the physical and experiential qualities of the public realm. Calgary's Plus 15 system (a pedestrian skyway system) is an example of a semi-public pedestrian environment frequently perceived as public space, but that is managed as private or semi-private space. This Master's Degree Project reviews the impact that social control methods, such as laws, security, surveillance, and design measures, have on the publicness of space. Additional levels of control are prevalent in semi-public space, such as the Plus 15 system, compared to public space. The control of the Plus 15 system was critically analyzed to determine the connection between the control of space and the potential to create an exclusionary environment. It was determined that semi-public space is more exclusionary with regards to use by lower socio-economic class, and more specifically, homeless individuals compared to downtown Calgary' s public street level. Recommendations are discussed that promote a renewed commitment to the public realm in order to foster an inclusive and socially diverse urban environment.
Bibliography: p. 148-155
Loomis, J. (2004). The publicness of space: exclusionary control of public and semi-public space (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/14275