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More inclusive than before?: The tale of a historic urban park in Ankara, Turkey

In the prevailing literature on contemporary public spaces, two contested sets of arguments become apparent: one depicts the 'end of public space', while the other challenges with this 'end of public space' discourse. Following the debates, one can ask the question of whether there has been any ideally 'public' or 'inclusive' public space ever in cities, or the inclusivity (thereby 'publicness') of public spaces can or may change in time based on a variety of factors. This research, addressing these questions, contributes to this ongoing discussion, first by providing a model of inclusivity for the qualitative assessment of public spaces, and second by using this model to provide an empirical analysis on the largest urban park in the historic city centre of Ankara, namely Genclik Park (GP). After in-depth analysis of the changing inclusivity of GP from its heydays to nowadays regarding four dimensions of 'access', in relation with its design, management, control and use processes, as well as the contextual aspect of the inclusivity exclusivity continuum of public private spaces, it concludes that the 'inclusive' nature of public spaces might change and evolve depending on time dimension, as well as the local and global contexts within which the public space is set and bounded. Although the causes and issues regarding the inclusivity capacity of public spaces are complex that is, 'multiple', 'site-specific' and 'interrelated', the continuous presence of democratic and egalitarian procedural accessibility, which embraces all segments of the public, which gives them the opportunity to raise their voices and opinions about the public spaces, and which deliberation is used as the mechanism to endure a consensual rather than authoritarian style of interaction is a requirement for generating and maintaining inclusive public spaces.