Hidden in the most visible place: Measuring visual accessibility and social performance of urban kiosks

Authors: Asya Natapov*, UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Helena Grinshpun, Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Topics: Urban Geography, Human-Environment Geography, Middle East
Keywords: Urban structure and form, spatial cognition, environmental familiarity, social encounter, visibility graphs, kiosks
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


How street kiosks, a prominent example of ‘atmospheric urban form,’ serve as a means to generate new public space in the city and to encourage social encounters? Typically, the geographical location of these places is not prescribed by planning authorities, but is the result of a bottom-up process, intrinsic to the way cities grow and evolve. At the same time, kiosks' performance relies on exposure to pedestrians, when the choice of a specific kiosk depends on a degree of visitors' familiarity with the environment. We apply an integrative methodology that combines (1) quantitative visibility analysis with (2) qualitative ethnographic fieldwork to study kiosks' spatial distribution in the city of Tel Aviv, Israel and to explore how it is related to their social performance. Detailed analysis of kiosks' visibility allows us to distinguish between the effect of search in familiar and in novel environments. Then, we trace various modes in which kiosks are used, both commercial and noncommercial, legitimate and illegitimate, and find that both commercial and noncommercial modes of use are maximized in places with higher visual integration in the city. Further, unexpectedly we reveal that illegitimate uses are also found more frequently in places with higher degree of visibility, despite higher surveillance and supervision.

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