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European public space programs with social cohesion in mind: their social goals, design approaches and representations

Aelbrecht, S. ORCID:, Stevens, P. and Kumar, Q. 2020. European public space programs with social cohesion in mind: their social goals, design approaches and representations. Presented at: Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future (RAI 2020), Virtual, 14-18 September 2020.
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The last two decades have witnessed a growing commitment to European public space projects seeking to promote social cohesion. These projects are built on the premise that social cohesion is under threat from the increasing cultural and economic differences in contemporary cities and that should be promoted or maintained in public spaces. This paper examines the key commonalities and differences among these new public spaces, in terms of their social, economic and planning policy contexts, social goals, design aims, processes and outcomes against the diverse user and representational needs. The paper characterizes three distinct approaches – Symbolic, Programmatic and Minimalist – that governments and designers that have been put forward as best practices for public space design to enhance social cohesion in similar socio-cultural and urban contexts: multicultural, low-income neighbourhoods that are experiencing gentrification. By combining theories and methods from social sciences and urban design, this paper offers an assessment and comparison of the three case studies and their relative merits and limitations on how they used public space design to support the divergent functional and representational needs of diverse social groups and the common aim of enhancing cohesion among these groups

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: In Press
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 December 2020
Date of Acceptance: 10 January 2020
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 09:41

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