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Public spaces of post-industrial cities and their changing roles

From Agora of the polis, and open market places of Medieval cities to today’s shopping malls, corporate plazas, atria and festival places, public spaces have been one of the crucial components of cities for centuries. Despite their evident importance in cities, public spaces have become subject to broad concern for more than two decades (Francis, 1987; Carr et al., 1992; Tibbalds, 1992; Boyer, 1993; Crilley, 1993; Madanipour, 2000). Particularly under the influence of globalisation and privatisation policies, city-marketing and imaging programmes and urban regeneration projects, the new landscape of post-industrial cities has witnessed the emergence of attractive and alluring public spaces (Boyer, 1993; Crilley, 1993; Hubbard, 1995; Madanipour, 2000; McInroy, 2000). The resurgence of broad interest in public spaces has led to a significant improvement in the quality of contemporary public spaces in cities. Nevertheless, public space literature has frequently hinted at the changing roles and features of the public spaces. This article is set up to draw attention to these changes in the postindustrial cities. Reviewing the public space literature of the last 25-30 years, it first defines the roles of public realms in cities; second explains in detail the reasons behind the increasing significance of public spaces over the last two decades; and third describes new types of public spaces in the landscape of post-industrial cities. Then, depicting the design and management characteristics, it underlines the changing roles of the public spaces of the post-industrial cities. In the conclusion, the article summarises the key issues discussed in the article and seeks to give clues for urban planning and design practice