Spatial Publicness of Contemporary Publicly Open Space: Its Utilitarian Possibilities of Urban Planning

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this dissertation is to gain an understanding of the subjective perceptions and methods of framing used by various entities to understand the concept of the contemporary publicness of the publicly open space. The main research methods of this dissertation include 1) a systematic literature review and 2) the Q-methodology, which is a useful method of illuminating cognitive characteristics according to the internal criteria of individuals. By doing so, this study emphasizes the importance of everyday discourse and perceptions of publicness and public spaces. First, the literature review reveals that various statutes or actions have related to the realization of contemporary spatial publicness across contexts. Drawing a line between "continuous" and "new" characteristics of contemporary spatial publicness proves abstruse. To distinguish the two, this study will delineate the predominant positions on new characteristics of contemporary spatial publicness, derived from three distinct types of conditions: (1) prerequisite conditions, (2) subjective conditions, and (3) practical conditions. Findings from the systematic literature review of 49 published articles show that types of spatial publicness are divided into three categories: (1) subjective publicness, regarding who ultimately takes responsibility for publicness; (2) procedural publicness, in terms of whether democratic procedures are being followed; and (3) contextual publicness, regarding whether publicness conforms to social values. Since the type of spatial publicness can vary depending on how it is interpreted, these key dimensions of publicness adequately provide answers to discursive questions about what constitutes spatial publicness. This study also systematically categorizes the attributes of contemporary spatial publicness expressed in the academic literature. Measured items of spatial publicness stem from three key dimensions, each containing three elements: (1) procedure (openness, communication, and democracy); (2) contents (commonality, distribution, and sustainability); and (3) features (accessibility, quality, and specificity). Lastly, as a result of the Q-analysis, the perceptions of the general public toward the concepts of spatial publicness are divided into five types. Factor A is the open condition-oriented group, Factor B is the critical communication-oriented group, Factor C is the distribution value-oriented group, Factor D is the diversity recognition-oriented group, and Factor E is the instrumental discussion-oriented group. This study is expected to provide a foundation for publicness research to promote the realization of socially oriented values in the future. Another Q-set of 40 images showing analysis of publicly open spaces illustrates that three opinion groups have been classified: an experience-based group (Factor AA), a green-preferring group (Factor BB), and a convivial atmosphere-based group (Factor CC). This research provides helpful insights for the planning of publicly open spaces as well as the design and public engagement process, along with baseline data that can be used to enhance policymakers' and design professionals' understanding of people's attitudes toward spatial publicness and preferences for different publicly open spatial types.



Publicness, Public Space, Urban Planning, Q-methodology