Assessment of public open space POS squares piazzas parks SUPOS


Public open space needs to be assessed as a routine aspect of its planning, design and management. But how should it be done? This was the question Dr Ying Li took for her PhD research at the University of Greenwich in London. As explained in the above interview her approach was:

  • to focus on Small Urban Public Open Space SUPOS – often described as ‘urban squares’
  • to survey the literature of as many theorists as possible, including the work of urban designers, social theorists, landscape architects, architects and planners. The theorists she particularly admired were Jane Jacobs, WH Whyte, Bill Hillier and Jan Gehl
  • to extract 38 measurable indicators/criteria from the theory texts
  • to apply the indicators/criteria to a large sample of spaces in London and in Tianjin
  • to look for statistical correlations between the use intensity of the public open spaces and the measured values for the indicators/criteria

The main conclusion from the research was that few of the criteria/indicators have general validity in explaining the intensity with which public spaces are used  but that most of the criteria/indicators have value in explaining the intensity with which particular spaces are used. This led to the recommendation that the SUPOS Assessment Method (SAM), developed as part of the research, should be used in the planning, design and management of public open spaces. Dr Li is making an open source SAM spreadsheet available to students and practitioners.

I would like to see a Lupos Assessment Method (LAM) developed for the assessment of Large Urban Public Open Space (LUPOS). See also Public Open Space parks, squares, landscape character assessment

Dr Li also comments on the application of the SAM methodology to Trafalgar Square in London.


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next?

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Tom Turner

Posted in landscape architecture, urban design, urban squares

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