Streets for co-presence? Mapping potentials
Paper in proceedings, 2015
In times of increasing residential segregation in cities the potential for interplay between local inhabitants and non-‐locals in urban public space becomes increasingly important. By sharing space we gain information and knowledge from our fellow citizens (Granovetter, 1983), and are enabled to participate in processes that negotiate social structures, attitudes, norms and acceptable behaviours (Giddens, 1984; Zukin, 2005). From this point of departure streets as well as local squares and centres appear to have a key role providing an arena for interplay between different social groups and an arena for exchanging information and are seen as crucial for providing access to opportunities and various urban resources (Young, 1996). Many neighbourhoods, however, have proved to fail in this respect and in areas that today face problems related to social exclusion in Sweden the streets are often characterized by co-‐absence rather than co-‐presence and there is an evident ruptured interface between locals and non-‐locals (Legeby, 2013). We argue that patterns of co-‐presence to a large extent are influenced by urban form and by the morphological properties that also is related to what kind of non-‐residential activities are likely to emerge locally. This paper aims to highlight the critical role of public space and demonstrate how configurational properties may be analysed and described so that it becomes clear if and where urban design interventions can be used in order to create more favourable conditions and improve access to both various urban resources and to an urban life with a mix of locals and non-‐locals. In a project conducted in collaboration with the city of Gothenburg seven neighbourhoods are analysed according to the potential for co-‐presence in public urban space, and according to access to urban resources; two aspects identified as highly relevant from an urban segregation perspective. This paper uses a three pronged approach that combines configurational analysis, accessibility analysis and observations, and various diagrammatical representations of the results are presented. The findings establish that several of the neighbourhoods prove to hold unfavourable conditions as a result of their spatial configuration. Nevertheless, the study illustrates a way forward whereby public planning can be supported by socio-‐spatial analysis and more accurately operate by using urban design to reach more equal living conditions and overcome social exclusion.