Toward A Conceptual Framework for Evaluating the Quality of Urban Open Spaces
Keywords:urban open spaces, placemaking, quality assessment, space syntax, DepthmapX
Urban open spaces have frequently been a vital destination for people to connect with one another. The efficiency of urban open spaces depends on their social, health, environmental, and economic benefits. However, little attention has been given to the impact of the relationship between the spatial environment and social interactions on the quality of urban open spaces to be vibrant spaces responding to the change in users’ needs. This study examines the integration between placemaking and space syntax approaches where overlapping relationships between the social and spatial aspects are found. This study aims to extract a conceptual framework with specific stages that can be followed for evaluating “quality” in urban open spaces and then can enhance the weaknesses. Thus, it is to direct the designers’ attention to rediscovering social and recreational uses in these spaces according to people’s needs and spatial configurations. The De Lesseps Bay project in Port Said city, in Egypt, was firstly analyzed through a quantitative method using the space syntax tool “DepthmapX” to understand social decisions and behaviors based on the selected spatial indicators, and secondly through a qualitative method using face-to-face interviews and field observations checklists to understand users’ needs in the place using the Pareto principle and a scoring system. The findings revealed the quality indicators of the place as the most needed factors for users such as attractiveness, vitality, clustered and integrated activities, visual appeal, safety, people connectivity, and accessibility. The spatial relations directly affected the “access and image” and “comfort and image” attributes of the placemaking approach, as well as indirectly affected the “uses and activities” and “sociability” attributes. This paper suggests expanding the concept of “quality” to include the comprehensive principles of creating vibrant spaces to continue responding to the change in community needs and renewal of other things in an urban environment.
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