The 'publicness' of the 1990s public spaces in Britain with a special reference to Newcastle upon Tyne
Public spaces, which have been one of the integral components of cities for centuries, have become subject to broad concern for more than two decades. Particularly under the shadow of globalisation and privatisation, attractive and alluring public spaces have been placed at the centre of the major world cities and the old-industrial cities competing as part of a search for new niches in the competitive urban markets. Starting from the late-1970s, the significance of public spaces has also been increasingly recognised by the central and local governments in Britain. A number of `well-designed' public spaces were developed especially through the regeneration and revitalisation schemes of the derelict lands of industrial estates, declining waterfronts and city centres. The recent interest in British public spaces is a promising sign, as the decline and decay had lately become their predominant characteristics. Nevertheless, it raises major questions about their `publicness'. As an outcome of these questions, this thesis focuses on the problem of the `publicness' of the 1990s public spaces in Britain. It concentrates on the two recently developed public spaces in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. By employing the case study method as a research strategy, this research, first, examines the history of the two public spaces, as well as their physical, psychological, social, political, economic and symbolic roles and problems just before the recent redevelopment schemes began. Then, it analyses the `publicness' of the recent development schemes of both public spaces through i) planning and design, ii) construction, iii) management and maintenance, iv) use phases with regard to the criteria of `access', `actors' and `interest'. Here, it mainly tries to see whether the `publicness' of the public spaces has reduced or increased with the recent development schemes. Finally, comparing one case to another, it seeks to show the similarities and differences of both public spaces in terms of the change in their `publicness' with the recent development schemes. The findings of the research lead us to draw the conclusion that, with the recent development schemes, both cases turned into `good-looking' and `well-maintained', but `less' public spaces than they used to be.