Author: Xing, Na
Title: Design for the public : public design in outdoor privately owned public space (POPS) in Hong Kong shopping centres
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Shopping malls -- China -- Hong Kong -- Designs.
Public spaces -- China -- Hong Kong -- Designs.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xi, 314 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: "Public space" is one of the most debated terms in urban research. Throughout history, public spaces have been among the most notable urban elements of the city, with large proportions of ordinary life conducted in them. However, with increased urban development, public spaces have been privatised and used as tools by the powerful classes to display their domination. A growing number of privately owned public spaces (POPS) are now being developed. Although they are supposed to be open to all, restrictions and barriers are increasingly imposed on people's "free" use of them. In describing that practice, this thesis contributes to the emerging research on POPS in Asian cultures, with a specific focus on Hong Kong. The term "public space" is first explored through an extensive historical review. The development of public space in Western and Asian cities is then examined, after which the idea of POPS is studied in relation to public space characteristics. The findings indicate that POPS have been transforming people's participation in public life since the 1960s. The development of POPS in shopping centres is then investigated. The findings reveal that outdoor POPS in shopping centres have been adopted as major places for people to spend their social lives. However, the spatial arrangement of POPS places restrictions on customers and other users. In general, POPS limit people's public participation.
The third part of this thesis is an in-depth case study of outdoor POPS in shopping centres situated in the commercial districts of Hong Kong. Based on site visits, field observations and direct interviews with selected users, the urban life patterns of consumers in Hong Kong are outlined. The findings illustrate people's different practices and interactions in outdoor POPS, which were originally used as everyday spaces but have become less open to the public with the encroachment of private management. However, the business interests of the shopping centres and the social needs of the public need to be balanced. The "users" of outdoor POPS are not only shopping centre customers, but also local residents, foreign domestic helpers and tourists. This is a result of the living conditions in urban Hong Kong and public-life nature of Chinese culture. Drawing on the results of the case study, some design guidelines are proposed for the revitalization of outdoor POPS in Hong Kong's shopping centres. These guidelines include comprehensive directions for private party managers and government policy makers, with the aim of facilitating greater public participation in POPS while taking into account shopping centre business concerns. The cooperation of private and public parties would provide an efficient solution to the currently limited accessibility of public spaces. This thesis provides a public design research framework for outdoor POPS in Hong Kong shopping centres. The Asian-ness of the public spaces explored provides significant research value and adds to the findings of existing studies from Western contexts. Hong Kong's distinctive culture and developmental history requires ever-accelerating input from designers. The spatial planning of public spaces should include not only environmental elements but also the social attachments gained from communal activities and public participation. The particular terms and situations examined in this study could be further applied in related studies of other Asian cities.
Access: open access

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