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postgraduate thesis: Publicness of elevated public space in Central, Hong Kong: an inquiry into the publicness of elevated pedestrian walkway systems asplaces and non-places

TitlePublicness of elevated public space in Central, Hong Kong: an inquiry into the publicness of elevated pedestrian walkway systems asplaces and non-places
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Lau, SSYZhu, T
Issue Date2010
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Rotmeyer, J. A.. (2010). Publicness of elevated public space in Central, Hong Kong : an inquiry into the publicness of elevated pedestrian walkway systems as places and non-places. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4730029
AbstractThe transformation of Hong Kong into a high-density city has created a unique three-dimensional urban fabric defined through networks of urban activity and infrastructure within tight spatial constraints of mountainous slopes and the island shoreline. In Hong Kong urban development, the government performs a dual role both as landlord and as administrator determining the development agenda. With limited space available for development high land price policies have restricted land supplies and priority is given to ‘economic space’ rather than ‘life space’. This has created a city of mobility based on consumption where privatized public spaces such as shopping malls, corporate plazas and elevated walkways are linked primarily to promote shopping. Public spaces are increasingly managed by private parties, and the degree of publicness of such spaces is often not clearly distinguishable to their potential users. Due to Hong Kong’s population density of approximately 33,000 persons/km2, practices of everyday life are increasingly limited by multiple restrictions controlling the use of spaces that only seem to be public. The district of Central, Hong Kong features an urban network of both publicly and privately maintained elevated pedestrian walkways that provide a secondary circulation space. Designed according to commercial priorities, the walkway system in Central typically links privately owned second floor lobbies with similar owners to promote consumption. Although these regulated spaces are required to allow public access 24 hours a day, pedestrian connectivity seems merely an after thought. In such private public spaces, pedestrians move between consumption nodes through a maze of displays and windows filled with luxury consumer goods. This study takes focus on the walkways in Central thus investigating publicness specifically within the context of Hong Kong's high-density urban fabric, then within a wider context of elevated pedestrian walkway systems in Asian Pacific cities. To this end, this thesis employs an empirical case study methodology consisting of a series of observational studies. Each of these studies publicness transcribed through observations of use, users and use patterns. This study identifies a distinction that underlies the discussion of publicness: that of non-place as opposed to place. The distinction of space and place relates to whether users establish personal relationships to the spaces they use and has drawn much critical attention in urban studies over the past several decades. Places typically provide the stage for social practices. The relationship between place and mobility at an elevated level has however, not been studied in detail yet. As mobile urban populations pass through places more than we dwell in them, a new type of space has emerged to facilitate a ‘frictionless passage’, or non-place. Within this realm of non-place pedestrians pass through zones of movement like passengers experiencing a lack of relationship or disconnectivity with a space. This leads to the question whether elevated pedestrian walkways consisting of spatial flows, movement and transitional zones are only capable of performing as non-places? Can relationships develop between the walkways and their users, making them more than non-places, but places? A case study forms the main part of this thesis and specifically focuses on observing aspect of movement and circulation within Central that determine perceptions of publicness. Findings resulting from this study provide an understanding of the ambiguous nature of spaces in Central. From a background study of elevated pedestrian walkways in six Asian Pacific cities, indicators of publicness are established that provide a framework to distinguish characteristics of elevated pedestrian walkways. In Central, gatherings among domestic helpers are found to contribute to the success of the elevated pedestrian walkway system into urban context. Results of this study indicate that elevated pedestrian walkways can be both places and non-places depending on the publicness of space and suggest how a transition of publicness can occur within such spaces.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectPublic spaces - China - Hong Kong.
Footbridges - China - Hong Kong.
Skywalks - China - Hong Kong.
Dept/ProgramArchitecture

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorLau, SSY-
dc.contributor.advisorZhu, T-
dc.contributor.authorRotmeyer, Juliana Adele.-
dc.date.issued2010-
dc.identifier.citationRotmeyer, J. A.. (2010). Publicness of elevated public space in Central, Hong Kong : an inquiry into the publicness of elevated pedestrian walkway systems as places and non-places. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4730029-
dc.description.abstractThe transformation of Hong Kong into a high-density city has created a unique three-dimensional urban fabric defined through networks of urban activity and infrastructure within tight spatial constraints of mountainous slopes and the island shoreline. In Hong Kong urban development, the government performs a dual role both as landlord and as administrator determining the development agenda. With limited space available for development high land price policies have restricted land supplies and priority is given to ‘economic space’ rather than ‘life space’. This has created a city of mobility based on consumption where privatized public spaces such as shopping malls, corporate plazas and elevated walkways are linked primarily to promote shopping. Public spaces are increasingly managed by private parties, and the degree of publicness of such spaces is often not clearly distinguishable to their potential users. Due to Hong Kong’s population density of approximately 33,000 persons/km2, practices of everyday life are increasingly limited by multiple restrictions controlling the use of spaces that only seem to be public. The district of Central, Hong Kong features an urban network of both publicly and privately maintained elevated pedestrian walkways that provide a secondary circulation space. Designed according to commercial priorities, the walkway system in Central typically links privately owned second floor lobbies with similar owners to promote consumption. Although these regulated spaces are required to allow public access 24 hours a day, pedestrian connectivity seems merely an after thought. In such private public spaces, pedestrians move between consumption nodes through a maze of displays and windows filled with luxury consumer goods. This study takes focus on the walkways in Central thus investigating publicness specifically within the context of Hong Kong's high-density urban fabric, then within a wider context of elevated pedestrian walkway systems in Asian Pacific cities. To this end, this thesis employs an empirical case study methodology consisting of a series of observational studies. Each of these studies publicness transcribed through observations of use, users and use patterns. This study identifies a distinction that underlies the discussion of publicness: that of non-place as opposed to place. The distinction of space and place relates to whether users establish personal relationships to the spaces they use and has drawn much critical attention in urban studies over the past several decades. Places typically provide the stage for social practices. The relationship between place and mobility at an elevated level has however, not been studied in detail yet. As mobile urban populations pass through places more than we dwell in them, a new type of space has emerged to facilitate a ‘frictionless passage’, or non-place. Within this realm of non-place pedestrians pass through zones of movement like passengers experiencing a lack of relationship or disconnectivity with a space. This leads to the question whether elevated pedestrian walkways consisting of spatial flows, movement and transitional zones are only capable of performing as non-places? Can relationships develop between the walkways and their users, making them more than non-places, but places? A case study forms the main part of this thesis and specifically focuses on observing aspect of movement and circulation within Central that determine perceptions of publicness. Findings resulting from this study provide an understanding of the ambiguous nature of spaces in Central. From a background study of elevated pedestrian walkways in six Asian Pacific cities, indicators of publicness are established that provide a framework to distinguish characteristics of elevated pedestrian walkways. In Central, gatherings among domestic helpers are found to contribute to the success of the elevated pedestrian walkway system into urban context. Results of this study indicate that elevated pedestrian walkways can be both places and non-places depending on the publicness of space and suggest how a transition of publicness can occur within such spaces.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47300292-
dc.subject.lcshPublic spaces - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.subject.lcshFootbridges - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.subject.lcshSkywalks - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.titlePublicness of elevated public space in Central, Hong Kong: an inquiry into the publicness of elevated pedestrian walkway systems asplaces and non-places-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4730029-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineArchitecture-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4730029-
dc.date.hkucongregation2010-

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