Due to the changing habits that occurred in the last decades because of the spread of the internet and the globalized lifestyle of modern life, the time spent in open-air urban spaces is being reduced. Especially in large towns, people often prefer to drive to commercial malls where they can connect to a Wi-Fi network and find all they need in one place. The lack of public spaces that attract people to public life results in cities missing opportunities for vitality and livability. However, quality time spent in urban areas for social activities, such as simply meeting, gathering, chatting, or walking, can still be found in some urban contexts. What makes an urban square an attractive place to be? Why do people choose to spend their time in such spaces? The concept of the urban square originated in European cities, and Italy boasts numerous good examples. This study explores the concept of the Italian urban square and examines the qualities of three cases in Rome, Italy, located in the center. The sites are analyzed in terms of spatial and social aspects. Formal characteristics, such as scale, form, and edge conditions, are addressed in combination with observations of everyday public activities, for example, how people use the spaces, when, and why. The relationships resulting from the analysis and the comparison of the results are used as a base to set up general guidelines to inspire the spatial design of modern urban squares.
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Arkansas Rome Program, Italy/Rome, Italy
Urban Square, Public Life, Rome, Formal Characteristics, Uses
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