Author: Jian, Yi
Title: Towards a just city : spatial justice planning of public open space in private developments
Advisors: Chan, H. W. Edwin (BRE)
Yung, Esther (BRE)
Xu, Yang (LSGI)
Chau, C. K. (BSE)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2021
Subject: Open spaces
Social justice
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xii, 260 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Among different types of land use, public open space (POS) is noted as one of the most important assets for a city and the local community, which benefits people in terms of their social, physical, and psychological well-being. However, the existing literature has revealed the uneven distribution of POS across different social contexts, which has failed to serve potential users equitably. While there is a significant need for research on the integration of the physical environment and the right to POS, previous studies have failed to show how to best merge these two components to promote spatial justice performance of POS. Focusing on spatial justice as the theoretical basis for planning and assessment of POS, this paper aims to first propose a framework for the evaluation of spatial justice performance in POSPD. We review key theories of spatial justice, and critically evaluate the insights they share when applied to urban POS planning. We examine the issues related to spatial justice of POS from three aspects namely: physical justice; urbanisation of social justice; and right to the city, in order to identify the critical variables to measure POS spatial justice performance. These examinations are supported by the analysed results of opinions from experts collected through both interviews and questionnaires. A conceptual framework is thus developed, which includes five constructs: Access and Management, Sociability and Diversity, Demand and Provision, Social Stratum and Information, and Social Inclusion. The relational interactions among these constructs provide an in-depth understanding and guidance for future work on POS planning, which contributes to bridging the knowledge gap on the subject. As a narrative device, the city of Hong Kong is selected to be the springboard in investigating the research issues because the city is purported to be a "city of diversity" and its geographical stance of compact development. The remaining part of this research is exclusively focused on "Public Open Space in Private Developments (POSPD)," a new type of POS developed in private developments and could be accessible to, and usable by, the public.
After reviewing the major urban planning concepts which advocate for compact development, this research adopts the spatial analysis technique to reveal the distributive characteristics of POSPD at the city level. It also examines the walkable routes to POSPD from the perspective of spatial justice at the neighbourhood level using Hong Kong as an empirical case study. The analysis results demonstrate a massive concentration of POSPD in urban commercial areas which may exacerbate spatial injustice from a bigger picture. Meanwhile, discernible differences in terms of the walking environment around POSPD are observed, which highlights that the overall neighbourhood walkability is not necessarily bound up with community wealth in Hong Kong. Based on the overall mapping of POSPD, this research proposes a new typology of POSPD pertaining to the dimensions of publicness and management. The typology consists of five POSPD types, namely Edge Zone, Hide-and-seek, Pseudo-Public space, Consumer's Paradise and Public Plaza. A class privilege of some POSPD type that excludes certain individuals or groups to a degree is outlined. As a result, the new typology enables more efficient identification of the weakness and shortcomings of each type of POSPD to be improved. Last but not least, this research presents one of the first attempts to highlight the tensions between spatial justice and private developments in POSPD. After analysing the questionnaire data collected from users in three POSPD cases, we identify the most sensitive variables for improving spatial justice performance in POSPD. In general, the spatial justice performance of POSPD can be approached, maintained, and enhanced by providing a secure, affordable environment that supports diverse activity for everyone. Yet, these three vital aspects are, to some extent, constrained by different dimensions of private development (i.e., patrol, commercialisation and control). Collectively, the analysis results of this research argue that, private development should not necessarily be seen as the antithesis of spatial justice, instead, they are expected to work in tandem to facilitate a new public sphere in this relatively novel POS. The conclusion of this research serves as a signpost pointing toward a more inclusive, flexible, spatial justice oriented public spaces.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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