Interpreting public space as a medium for urban liveability


  • Alberto De Capua Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria
  • Lidia Errante Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria



built environment, public space, urban living, socio-spatial dynamics, interpretative model


The emphasis placed on urban living issues concerning public space seems well-founded based on the many spatial, environmental, social and psychological effects connected the processes of urban transformation. The liveability of the contemporary cities cannot ignore the features of quality and diversity of the system of public spaces, intended here as an infrastructure capable of connecting places and people, goods and services in continuous flow. This contribution highlights the need for tools able to interpreting the ever-changing physical and social demands of contemporary public space and propose an interpretative cognitive model to support to Public Administrations order to better orient urban transformation and regeneration strategies and goals.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Metrics Graph

Author Biographies

Alberto De Capua, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria

Architects and PhD, he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture and Territory. He lectures and research on methods and protocols for the monitoring and the improvement within the environmental quality and the building industry, with particular reference to hygiene and safety requirements of the indoor environment.

Lidia Errante, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria

Architect and PhD, she is a Research Fellow at the Department of Architecture and Territory. Mainly interested in the topics of architectural technology, socio-spatial quality of the built environment, architecture and public space.


Carmona, M. (2010a), “Contemporary Public Space: Critique and Classification, Part One: Critique”, in Journal of Urban Design, vol. 15, issue 1, pp. 123-148. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st May 2019].

Carmona, M. (2010b), “Contemporary Public Space, Part Two: Classification”, in Journal of Urban Design, vol. 15, issue 2, pp. 157-173. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st May 2019].

Cerasi, M. (1976), Lo spazio collettivo della città – Costruzione e dissoluzione del sistema pubblico nell’architettura della città moderna, Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, Milano.

Croso Mazzuco, S. (2016), Repurposing Underused Public Spaces into Urban Commons – An active participatory urban regeneration model for Gospel Oak, Research developed as part of MSc Urban Design & City Planning, Bartlett School of Planning – UCL. [Online] Available at: Urban_Commons_An_active_participatory_urban_regeneration_model_for_ Gospel_Oak [Accessed 5 January 2019].

Gregotti, V. (1993), “Editoriale”, in Casabella | Il Disegno degli Spazi Aperti, n. 597-598, pp. 2-4.

Harvey, D. (1985), The Urbanization of Capital – Studies in the History and Theory of Capitalist Urbanization, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimora (USA).

Foster, S. R and Iaione, C. (2016), “The City as a Commons”, in Yale Law & Policy Review, vol. 34, issue 2, pp. 281-349. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 29 July 2019].

Jacobs, A. and Appleyard, D. (1987), “Toward an Urban Design Manifesto”, in Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 53, issue 1, pp. 112-120. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2019].

Jacobs, J. (1992), The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage Books, New York.

Katz, C. (2001), “Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity for Social Reproduction”, in Antipode, vol. 33, issue 4, pp. 709-728. [Online] Available at: www. [Accessed 15 October 2019].

Latour, B. and Yaneva, A. (2008), “Give me a gun and I will make all buildings move: an ANT’s view of architecture”, in Geiser, R. (ed.), Explorations in Architecture – Teaching, Design, Research, Birkhäuser, Zürich, pp. 80-89. [Online] Available at: will_make_all_buildings_move_an_ANT’s_view_of_architecture [Accessed 13 March 2019].

Lefebvre, H. (1991), The production of space [orig. ed. La Production de l’Espace, 1974], Blackwell, Oxford (UK) and Cambridge (USA).

Lynch, K. (1981), A Theory of Good City Form, MIT Press, Cambridge (USA).

Lynch, K. (1960), The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge (USA).

Madanipour, A. (2003), Public and private space of the city, Routledge, London. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2019].

Marans, R. W. (2012), “Quality of Urban Life Studies: An Overview and Implications for Environment-Behaviour Research”, in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 35, pp. 9-22. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 November 2019].

Marans, R. W. and Stimson, R. J. (eds) (2011), Investigating Quality of Urban Life – Theory, Methods and Empirical Research, Springer Netherlands.

Marcuse, P. (2009), “From critical urban theory to the right to the city”, in City – analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, vol. 13, issue 2-3, pp. 185-197. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13 March 2019].

Mehta, V. (2014), “Evaluating Public Space”, in Journal of Urban Design, vol. 19, issue 1, pp. 53-88. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st May 2019].

Mehta, V. (2007), “A Toolkit for Performance Measures of Public Space”, in Urban Trialogues 43rd ISOCARP Congress 2007, Antwerp. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 January 2019].

Németh, J. and Schmidt, S. (2011), “The Privatization of Public Space: Modeling and Measuring Publicness”, in Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, vol. 38, issue 1, pp. 5-23. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 March 2019].

Sitte, C. (1953), L’arte di Costruire le Città [orig. ed. Der Städtebau nach seinen künstlerischen Grundsatzen, 1889], Officine Grafiche dell’Editore Antonio Vallardi, Milano.

Staeheli, L. and Mitchell, D. (2008), The People’s Property? Power, Politics and the Public, Routledge, New York.

UN – Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014), World Urbanization Prospects – The 2014 Revision (ST/ESA/SER.A/352), New York. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st April 2019].

UN – General Assembly (2015), Trasforming our world – The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/70/1), New York. [Online] Available at: docs/globalcompact/A_RES_70_1_E.pdf [Accessed 1st November 2019].

UN-Habitat – United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2015), Global Public Space Toolkit – From Global Principles to Local Policies and Practice. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st April 2019].

A ‘useless’ design furniture (by West8, 1996) in Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, (credit: L. Errante, 2018). AGATHÒN 06 | 2019




How to Cite

De Capua, A. and Errante, L. (2019) “Interpreting public space as a medium for urban liveability”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 6(online), pp. 148–161. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/6142019.



Architecture | Research & Experimentation

#mycityoftomorrow. A think tank on cities and territories of tomorrow

Francesco Alberti, Stefania Cupillari, Eleonora Giannini, Sara Naldoni, Lorenzo Nofroni