Purpose: This paper interrogates the impact of spatial transformations on urban life. It explores the level of individual and group satisfaction and sense of well-being within the urban public realm; this is undertaken by reporting on the outcomes of an assessment study of three key public open spaces in Belgrade, developed from a quality of urban life (QoUL) perspective. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic multilevel assessment method is utilised, with the aim of determining the material and immaterial elements that can contribute to an individual's sense of comfort within a public space. The study places emphasis on the functional, social and perceptual attributes as they relate to the physical characteristics of three assessed spaces. Findings: The assessment study resulted in a systematic overview of the different attributes of the three assessed spaces. With various performance levels within each set of attributes, the study identifies key challenges and problems that could lead towards determining possible opportunities for future local urban interventions and developmental actions. Originality/value: With the shifts in policies and the associated governance process that redefined the outlook of previously enforced development and urban growth in the last two decades, the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, has undergone significant spatial changes. This has resulted in a certain level of fragmentation in the urban fabric, leading to a number of challenges concerning public health, well-being, safety, accessibility, comfort and urban mobility, to name a few, that need to be better addressed and understood within the local context.