Culture and Context in Public Space Design: Symbolic ornamentation, local craftsmanship and public participation as a way to enable meaning and affordance

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Abstract

Rapid urbanization and increasing globalization of urban development strategies are resulting in a lack of connection between people and places, and places and their context. Nevertheless, cultural embedding and sense of place have a direct impact on the quality of public space. The purpose of this research is to explore culture and context specific design strategies that enable the production of situated meaning , in turn augmenting the quality of public space. First, an extended framework for the evaluation of public space quality is presented, incorporating Gehl’s Twelve Quality Criteria, as well as aspects from Stobbelaar and Pedroli’s Landscape Identity Circle. Subsequently, three case studies by West 8, located in culturally and spatially diverse contexts and are evaluated against this framework. As a result from this analysis, symbolic ornamentation appears as West 8’s primary design strategy to embed these projects into their cultural and spatial contexts. With the term symbolic ornamentation, we refer to the abstraction of elements from the landscape – history, ecology or culture related – into design elements as a way to incorporate them within a design project. To this, the office deploys three specific strategies: analysis as a parallel and iterative process through the various phases of design, engagement of native collaborators and craftsmanship for local know-how and the facilitation of public participation for various purposes during the design process. The research concludes that cultural meaning is not independent of affordance and that functionality in a project can also evoke a sense of place through appropriate design strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages9-9
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventReimagining Public Spaces and Built Environments in the Post-pandemic World - University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Duration: 9 Dec 202112 Dec 2021
https://ai4society.ca/post-pandemic-world/

Conference

ConferenceReimagining Public Spaces and Built Environments in the Post-pandemic World
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityEdmonton
Period9/12/2112/12/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Context
  • Public Space
  • Design
  • Craftmanship
  • Symbolic ornamentation
  • West 8
  • Framework
  • Affordance
  • Meaning in design

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