Squares for co-presence: The influence of urban form on the intensity and diversity of people co-present in 12 squares in Gothenburg
Paper in proceedings, 2017
Increasing residential segregation in cities gives public spaces a more important role in solidarity processes, bringing people together, supporting movement, co-presence and co-awareness. Local squares thus have the greatest significance providing an arena for social interplay as people become co-present. Earlier studies showed that high spatial integration plays an important role for the mix of locals and non-locals besides aspects relating to population density and land use. The purpose of this paper is to reach a better understanding whether also more local properties that characterize a square influence co-presence. Further, more squares are added to represent a broader spectrum of neighbourhoods which will help us understand whether network integration is important in all types of neighbourhoods. Thirdly, this study will help to inform whether earlier findings by Legeby in Stockholm, Södertälje and Gothenburg can be confirmed which allows us to generalize these findings. The amount of people co-present in squares and the share of non-local visitors are studied as two indicators (or aspects) of co-presence. The empirical data was collected through observation including snapshots and interviews. The number of people present in the public squares was noted and the interviews were used to measure the share of non-locals. The spatial analysis includes besides integration and betweenness, an analysis of density (both population and building density) and land uses accessible from the squares within various radii. Also, geometric characteristics such as size, shape and enclosure of the squares are included in the study. The result shows different patterns of co-presence in the 12 studied squares, especially if we distinguish squares in the most central area of Gothenburg with squares located at a longer distance from the city centre. Some findings confirm earlier findings and allow us to generalize the findings as other findings seem not to be relevant in all cities. Further, pure geometric properties of squares do not show strong correlations with co-presence. We can thus conclude that the local design intervention of squares cannot promote co-presence very well without the support of urban structure.
Segregation in public space