A public space project on grammar, poetics and management
This article is a result of my PhD research activities. The main goal of the research was to understand the key factors of success and failure in public space design and management.
Accordingly, the first part of the article investigates what a public space is and what makes it successful. The term "success" is ambiguous since it refers to multiple different views on public space. A less uncertain area is that of the design quality of public spaces: many authors have treated this subject more or less explicitly, including aspects such as accessibility, the perception of space and its use. The second part of the article presents the methodology used for the study of public spaces, explaining why Zaragoza has been chosen as a case study and describes the stages of research. The third part of the article presents the case of the public spaces of the city of Zaragoza, Spain. This case study is used in order to find correspondences and discrepancies with the conclusions previously made in the literature and eventually to identify other qualities of public space design. The analysis aims to identify which factors are essentially insignificant for the success of the project (such as the available budget or the design process), and which elements, by contrast, strongly affect the attendance and the appreciation of public spaces by the population. In particular, three elements were singled out that have the potential to become the drivers of the project: "grammar" (distributive features of spaces and buildings, microclimate, etc.), poetics (identity, recognisability of the space, etc.) and management (functions performed within the area and at its borders). The fourth part of the article examines these three elements (grammar, poetics, management) and the way they may be present within different projects. In some cases, the project succeeds in creating an optimal balance between all three elements, in other cases one element prevails over the other two; sometimes there is only one element, but it is so powerful that it compensates for the others (e.g. the entertainment activities on-site can animate even an ordinary space exposed to the elements).
In conclusion, some reflections are offered regarding grammar, poetry and management, and their interrelationship.
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