Beyond the Physical: The Spatiality of Inclusivity in Urban Public Open Spaces

Preeti Pansare*, Ashraf M. Salama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Cities are constantly evolving entities rich with diversity of built forms, functions, and users. This diversity is best understood in public spaces, which serve as the arena where these complex interactions take place. The evolving power and social dynamics in these spaces is reflected in the architectural built form in spaces such as high streets and the civic center. The social life within the high streets and the civic centers lends vibrancy to the city and contributes to its image. In today’s increasingly diverse atmosphere, the conviviality of public spaces has become of paramount importance. The diversity in public spaces is multifaceted, stemming from the diversity in users of the space and the activities that they engage in. To deal with the diversity the space needs to provide a common footing to the inhabitants, their interactions, and the supporting activities. This criticality of common footing or sense of inclusion is also highlighted in the UN SDG 2030 report, which aspires to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Thus, the main purpose of the study is to observe, analyze and synthesize the spatiality of inclusion in public open spaces by going beyond the physical form and observing the behavior of the occupants.

The study is carried out at four spaces in Glasgow and include high street and the civic square. All the sites are dominated by a blend of architectural styles that have been retained as the spaces have evolved. The architectural style, the occupants, and the inherent temporality of occupancy in these public spaces carry different meanings for the occupants and elicit different reactions accordingly. The research employs an array of observation tools to quantify a set of indicators for inclusivity, assessing for temporality and sense of belonging. The research also employs methods of visual analysis to triangulate and assess the indicators associated with the users’ attitudes. The tools utilized for the research include behavioral mapping, emotional mapping, and visual attention software to reveal various tangible and intangible aspects related to inclusivity.

The findings suggest that the visual elements of the architectural style along the edge of the urban public space affect the occupants’ behavior and social engagements. During the process of visual assessment, it becomes evident that the behavior of individuals is influenced by the physical environment in and around public spaces. It is important for the built form and the public open spaces to offer opportunities and features that accommodate different temporalities in occupants' activities and behaviors. However, it is observed that the presence of restrictive boundaries and internal arrangement can impact the overall sense of inclusion and belonging. This approach through visual and emotional mapping of indicators provides insights into understanding the relationships between the built form and the interactions that take place within the space. The approach of examining the spatiality of inclusivity would contribute towards developing further design strategies for vibrant and dynamic urban public open spaces, which support the creation of collective memory and foster a sense of identity.

Track: The Dynamism of Socio-Spatial Practice and the Making of Built Environments.
Session C5: Traditional Open Spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024
EventIASTE 2024: The Dynamism of Tradition, The International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Duration: 5 Jan 20249 Jan 2024


ConferenceIASTE 2024: The Dynamism of Tradition, The International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments
Abbreviated titleIASTE 2024
Country/TerritorySaudi Arabia
Internet address

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