(February 2011) Public Art and Livable Urban Public Spaces

Public Art and Livable Urban Public Spaces  image

Cities are manifestations of the culture and traditions of a people, a historical period, a region, an environment or a climate. Every city should have its own particular character in which elements of politics, society, economy, history and culture affect the overall layout, image and structure of the city. Only when the city's unique features are defined can an excellent urban image be created. A city without its own singular characteristics cannot be called ‘artistic'. The importance of urban landscapes and the city environment in urban life cannot be emphasized enough. Public art, as a form of art that participate in this process, became popular in last decades. It is now widely recognized that art in public realm can be a powerful tool to reach people, present and represent cultural, social and local identities and even play an active role in forming cultural meanings, characteristics and identity of cities.
In this piece of work Art in public realm of cities will be studied through investigating the role of public art as a tool for enhancing the quality of urban spaces. The potential of city spaces that accommodate art works to be social and cultural quarters that enliven contemporary urban life and attract and host social, cultural, educational events will be questioned.
The thesis consists of two parts: a theoretical framework resulted from a theoretical study and a practical framework based on key informant interviews and the study of significant cases outlined in these interviews. Part one uses literature based research to characterise the concept of public space, the importance of this concept, public art and its contribution in urban planning which will provide direction for the assessment of the role and importance of art in urban design process. Part two surveys this role through professionals' views (series of in-depth interviews that will be carried out with urban designers, architects, artists and council authorities) and then a practical investigation in existing case studies revealed in these interviews.
The research will employ a mixed method approach using different sources of data (qualitative and/or quantitative) with questionnaires, observations and interviews (semi-structured, street interviews). This will provide the opportunity to interrogate a variety of evidence. The semi-structured street interviews will explore the findings obtained through the key informant interviews and surveys. Data analysis techniques will include content analysis (documents, planning appliances, magazines, books, films), spatial analysis (the plans, maps, photographs, postcards) and coding data (interviews, questionnaires and observations).
The aim is to propose a new approach to understanding the relation between art and urban space. To what extent can art play role in making successful public spaces? What are the characteristics of public space that support creative art? Can public art illuminate cultural ideas that other forms cannot? What is it that public art can uniquely do? To what extent is public art relevant in making the creative, pleasant public spaces we appreciate today?