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Social relationships and patterns of use in urban public spaces in China and the United Kingdom

Cao, J; Kang, J; (2019) Social relationships and patterns of use in urban public spaces in China and the United Kingdom. Cities , 93 pp. 188-196. 10.1016/j.cities.2019.05.003.

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Abstract

Public spaces are social places that enhance social life and foster social interactions. However, there is a lack of analysis of the patterns of use by people in various types of social relationships. Observational data on four public spaces in Suzhou, China, and Sheffield, UK, assessed users' personal characteristics, activities and spatial occupancies in public spaces. Site factors were not related to personal characteristics, but age and group size were culturally different. Activities and spatial occupancies differed between unaccompanied and accompanied users. Compared to single users, users in groups tended to participate in multiple activities at once, and their activities included more interactions. Single users' spatial distributions conformed to the edge effect, but users in groups were evenly distributed in the spaces. Three types of social relationships were defined: Intimate Pair, Intimate Group and Social Group. Intimate Pairs were most likely to use mobile phones and use private spaces, Intimate Groups were most likely to be talking and sitting and to use park amenities, and Social Groups were most likely to be playing games and relaxing in spacious open areas. Regarding spatial occupancy, Intimate Pairs and Social Groups were most likely to use the middle and peripheral regions, and the Intimate Groups tended to be evenly distributed in the spaces. The results of this study stress the importance of designing public spaces for the types of users expected to use the spaces and to consider various types of social relationship groups.

Type: Article
Title: Social relationships and patterns of use in urban public spaces in China and the United Kingdom
DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2019.05.003
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.05.003
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Public space, Usage pattern, Observation method, Social relationships, Edge effect
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076059
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