Public spaces are an important part of cities as they contribute to improvements in liveability, environmental quality and sustainability. Despite these conditions of public spaces in cities in developing countries like India, are far from desirable in terms of quantity as well as quality. Though considerable research has been done on successful public open spaces to identify quality attributes/criteria and their evaluation in the context of developed countries, much of this has been primarily aimed at providing design guidelines/solutions. Besides, the role of proper management in ensuring quality and overall success of public spaces has also been assessed. However, not much research has been done in this regard in Indian context, where there is a considerable difference between the norms and provision of public spaces; the usage of public spaces and their quality from those in developed/rich countries This demands an in-depth understanding of the problems and issues surrounding public spaces, the criteria for quality in public spaces, and development of an evaluation framework, so that appropriate management strategies can be framed for their improvement.
In view of the above, the study investigates public spaces in the context of three Indian cities and identifies the quality attributes/criteria based on a survey of users’ opinion and observational studies of selected public spaces. Further, a framework for the evaluation of the quality of public spaces employing the Public Space Quality Index (PSQI), has been developed and applied in selected public spaces. Using the above methodology, public spaces in a city with different performance levels, and factors responsible for the same can be identified, which can then become the basis for formulating appropriate management strategies for their improvement and comparing performances of public spaces in specific areas of a city/different cities to encourage competitiveness among cities to improve the quality of their public realm.