Effects of outdoor seating spaces on sociability in public retail environments
Seating is an important contributor to the social effectiveness of public spaces, due to its ability to support stay activities. This paper focuses on the contributions seating makes to sociability in Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, a public space where limited qualitative assessment has been conducted on seating use and social behaviour. Assessments were made on the sociability of Queen Street Mall through initial observations, online surveys and secondary observations. Common findings across all research methods suggest that the design of Queen Street Mall prioritises pedestrian movement pathways in the interest of adjacent retail centres, creating an environment that struggles to encourage social behaviour. To improve the social use of this space, seating environments should be redesigned to prioritise prolonged outdoor stay activity and increased provisions for shading and sheltering should be provided. Given the impending growth of the Brisbane population, it is important that public spaces in Queen Street Mall are designed to best serve an increasing number of local visitors.
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