The boundaries of public space: A case study of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway

Tianjiao Zhao, Kin Wai Michael Siu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Boundaries affect both spatial properties and human behaviours. The ways in which people relate to boundaries determine how space is processed and developed. This paper aims to clarify the relationships between people and boundaries and provide insights for the design process and facility management. The paper explores the everyday lives of people in densely populated urban areas. Behavioural observation was the basic methodology, while multiple case studies provided valid explanations about how boundaries interact with space and people. The paper analysed the dependent relationship between space and boundaries and classified the boundaries in Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to determine how policymakers, designers, managers, and users perceived and reacted to boundaries in MTR stations. Based on the user-centred design perspective, a quantitative description presented a method of evaluating existing boundaries. The end of the paper provides insights for boundary design in order to achieve a better quality of public life to people in their everyday lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Boundaries
  • Mass transit
  • Public design
  • Public space
  • User-centred

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Marketing


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