The pedestrian bridge as everyday place : an urban reference of placemaking in high-density cities

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The pedestrian bridge as everyday place : an urban reference of placemaking in high-density cities


Author: Wang, Weijia
Title: The pedestrian bridge as everyday place : an urban reference of placemaking in high-density cities
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2017
Subject: Footbridges -- China -- Hong Kong.
Pedestrian areas -- China -- Hong Kong.
Pedestrian facilities design -- China -- Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xii, 280 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Pedestrian bridges are urban infrastructures that are primarily used to segregate pedestrians from vehicular traffic. Many pedestrian bridges have been constructed in high-density cities such as Hong Kong, where they are essential to the daily lives of the urban population and have become a new form of everyday urban place accommodating various daily activities. People from diverse backgrounds use the pedestrian bridges as everyday places that meet their specific urban needs. The oldest pedestrian bridge in Hong Kong is Bowen Road Footbridge, constructed in 1942, and since then 1,214 pedestrian bridges have been completed, as of March 2015. Hong Kong is a bridge city, both physically and metaphorically. The bridges span different terrains and move large numbers of people. They accommodate diverse cultural and recreational activities, and/or commercial urban programs, rather than simply being segregation infrastructures for urban traffic crossing. Intuitively or intentionally, individuals consider and make pedestrian bridges their own places. This study investigates placemaking in high-density urban contexts by examining Hong Kong pedestrian bridges. The aims of the research are to (a) reveal and examine the mechanism of everyday placemaking in a high-density context, (b) develop a framework of necessity and sufficiency for placemaking, and (c) formulate the design and management strategies of everyday placemaking.
Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used in this research, but as the dominant/less-dominant data collection approach is taken, the qualitative methods are selected as dominant and the quantitative methods make up a relatively a small component. The research consists of three phases: a literature review, an overall investigation, and a detailed case study. The review prepares a solid foundation for the theoretical discussion while the investigation into the changing roles of urban pedestrian bridges provides guidance for the subsequent in-depth case study, which is based on a physical survey and intensive observations of daily use of the Mong Kok Pedestrian Bridge in Hong Kong, and investigations into the process of everyday placemaking in high-density cities. The frameworks of necessity and sufficiency, for placemaking and place-led development, are summarized and discussed using the concept of the pedestrian bridge as "everyday place," and an elaborate framework of everyday placemaking is generated by considering the dynamic relationship between micro-scale spatial characteristics and the everyday actions of the urban population. From this framework a performance-based placemaking strategy is proposed that clarifies the roles of designer, planner, regulator, and ordinary everyday user in the process of placemaking. In summary, this thesis provides a systemic analysis of the concept of "pedestrian bridges as everyday places" in a high-density urban context. The nature of the pedestrian bridge space and the process of everyday placemaking are revealed and examined. A strategy of placemaking is then proposed for designers, regulators, and users. The research methodology used can then be referenced in related urban studies.

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