UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The public quality of interior spaces with specific reference to shopping malls Pollok, Clemens


Contemporary cities are to a certain extent characterized by buildings and facilities which withdraw pedestrian public activities from the exterior. The increased development of office and convention complexes, large community and shopping centres has shifted pedestrian activities from a coherent outdoor street network to isolated interiors. This process, described as the phenomenon of internalization, significantly changes the public quality of urban spaces. Exterior public space loses the liveliness of pedestrian activities and is reduced to a specialized vehicular movement. However, interior public space is an insufficient substitute for outdoor space because it provides for specific functions only which are often manipulated and controlled by private interests. It is the intention of this thesis to identify and define the potential interior spaces have to serve as public spaces. The analysis focuses on the activity of shopping, one of the most basic daily public activities. The thesis commences with the description of internalization and its impact on the network of public spaces. A case study of an area in downtown Vancouver indicating the location of shopping facilities demonstrates a typical distribution of public spaces in a contemporary urban structure. A basic premise of the thesis is that the quality of interior public spaces can be evaluated by criteria for publicness which is equally valid for interior and exterior public spaces. The term public quality or publicness is defined by presenting criteria for social liveliness derived from outdoor public space. Three criteria, choice, continuity of movement space, and global order, are chosen in order to analyze selected interior shopping facilities to identify their potential to serve as public spaces. The thesis concludes that from an architectural standpoint interior spaces have a rich potential to serve as public spaces, and in particular, the promotion of an overall public movement network which connects interior with exterior public spaces enhances interior publicness. However, because of economic constraints shopping centres tend to promote the interface between customer and merchandise rather than the interaction of people and other experiences of publicness.

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