Historic definitions of public space : inspiration for high quality public space

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic research

10 Citations (Scopus)


Public space is an indispensable element of urban space and urban life. It enriches the spaces of the city and encourages the establishment of activities, and in turn flourishes the everyday lives of the residents. As a part of the urban landscape, public space contains centuries-old history in both the Western and Eastern world. Its definitions are also comparatively different. Including the Greek agora, Roman forum, medieval market places, pizzas, residential squares and American city parks, all these historic identities and physical places have become the foundation stone for the requirement of today’s urban space qualities. Although public space is receiving increasing emphasis in urban landscapes, with today’s over-development of modern cities, public space is constantly being swallowed up by business and political factors. At the same time, due to the different urban development structures, public space has its own natures and characteristics under Chinese culture. By reviewing several critical writings on public space, this paper examines the historic definitions of public space based on the timeline in various places. Then, taking Hong Kong (i.e. a modern city significantly affected by Chinese and Western cultures) as a case study, this paper attempts to analyse the changing natures and characteristics of public space in this modern city. It then further identifies some key concerns for policymakers and professional to plan, design and manage public space which can provide a high quality of life for city dwellers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-56
Number of pages18
JournalInternational journal of humanitites
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Historic Definition
  • Public Space
  • Quality of Live
  • Policy
  • Design
  • Management


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