The domination of traffic in the middle of the 20th century broke this pattern of public space use, but in the current pedestrian focused urban design, public spaces act as spaces connecting different functions thus acting as meeting, market and traffic spaces.
Another perspective of the use of squares is as both multiuse and single use spaces according to the period and situation of the place. According to Cliff (2003), there were different uses in different periods. Squares were considered as market places during peace time and for other purposes during war time. They were used as Agoras and Forums in some. But, he concludes that the best kind of open spaces or squares are the ones which allow the variety of users to use the squares for variety of uses. Alternatively Cliff (2003) also sees the square as part of an urban element, its centrality. The use of a square is that it becomes central and symbolic. Its aesthetic andarchitectural values signify some kind of message. And as a central element, it serves as organizing element for the urban planner and designer.
In planning theories, based on the above discussion, a square should be planned and designed in a way that is flexible for many uses and
users. In a new approach of planning, the above meaning of a square as an open space bounded by buildings is totally changed when we use landscape as the guiding element for urban planning and design. Landscape urbanism could become a better approach in this context. The first models of this theory being parks make it more applicable for urban open spaces.
“Across a diverse spectrum of cultural positions landscape has emerged as the most relevant medium through which t
o construct a meaningful and viable public realm in North American cities.” (Waldheim, 2006)
Local cultures have been defining the use of these spaces in different periods. When discussing the use of urban open spaces, its historical beginnings go back to the Greek Agora and the Roman forum where these spaces were used for political, economic and cultural activities. They are still significant in history for their symbolical function concerning democracy. According to N. Naz and Z. Ashraf (2008) the blended activities of these types of spaces did not continue to the middle Ages. Giving examples from the renaissance cities, they describe the isolated use of market square, cathedral square and others which are confined to single uses of economic, political or religious purpose. They also discuss how these spaces have changed into parking spaces in modern cities.
Starting from the year 1970, when modernism was highly challenged, as pollution and vehicular traffic dominated cities, public space and green open areas were reintroduced into the urban realm. ( Gehl and Gemzoe 2000) The reintroduction of public space according to the above statement was a solution to the growing pollution rate of the environment and it was about reclaiming the city space from vehicles and motor ways. And from this point, public space has become an important element of urban life in many developed countries. Now, cities are growing into more society, pedestrian and people centered urban designs. The use of public space differed in different periods. Generally, it circulated around market place, meeting place and traffic space. ( Gehl and Gemzoe 2000)
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