Authors: Wei Liu*, Washington University in St. Louis
Topics: Environmental Perception, Social Theory, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Public space, social interaction, quality of indicators, divided city
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom A, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
The design and function of urban public space impact social interactions, including the potential for social mixing among residents in socioeconomically diverse areas of the city. Successful public spaces function to provide opportunities for people to stay in place and interact with people (Gehl, 2011). However, little is known about which criteria of public space are highly related to social interaction outcomes. This study identified and examined characteristics of public spaces that promoted resident social interactions. Based on a literature review, four key criteria of successful public spaces that contribute to a better social interaction were identified and adopted as key indicators of a conceptual framework. The criteria include 1) reasons for going to public space; 2) a sense of comfort; 3) perception of safety; and 4) opportunities for entertainment. A survey was conducted to gather a sample of 10 percent of park users of the Central Corridor Development of St. Louis to measure the perceived public space criteria and social interaction outcomes. The findings showed that not all of the four criteria were significantly associated with social interaction in the context of St. Louis. Only the accessibility of entertainment facilities and reasons of being in the place were positively associated with a greater number of people attracted to public spaces from different neighborhoods in St. Louis.