PUBLIC SPACE - General introduction

Introduction of Public Space

Public Space

The sub-system public space is one out of eight sub-systems that are analyzed in order to perform a sustainable transition of the Dutch island of Texel. The other seven sub-systems have the same goal of transforming Texel into a sustainable island. Besides, each of these sub-systems is - to some extent - related to each other.


Texel is the biggest island out of 5 Wadden islands and situated in the province of Noord-Holland, The Netherlands. It is enclosed by the North Sea and the Wadden Sea and accessible by a ferry. The island has about 13,000 inhabitants spread over several villages. During summertime it is very crowded with tourists from both the Netherlands and Germany.


A public space is a social space that is generally open and accessible to people, or a collective area that is shaped within the building mass improving the connection between the building and its surroundings and prevent the city from being reduced to uniform public space and or uniform closed building masses. In fact, within these transitional areas different kind of activities are developed such as walking, staying, sitting, seeing, hearing, talking, among others. Furthermore, regarding urban scale, public space can be defined as the connecting spaces that organize the relation between the buildings and the city. Therefore, public space is defined as the life or space between buildings where people can share with others and with the city in a relaxed and undemanding way.

                  What is more, several thinkers have attempted to describe the characteristics of the modern public space. For instance, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas defines the term Öffentlichkeit, ‘the public realm’ ‘public space’, as ‘a realm of social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed ... and in which citizens can confer in an unrestrictive manner’. He defines this realm as a social area where rational discussion takes place between citizens regarding general interests.

                  In order to understand the importance of the existence of public spaces, it is important to establish that people generally want the buildings that represent their social and community life to give more than functional fulfillment. They want their aim for monumentality, happiness, pride, and excitement to be satisfied. That is why the spaces and the movements that link those buildings and its surroundings are essential, because they have to achieve the same goal of fulfillment between the people and the city.

                  Finally, it is important to mention that people are attracted to other people. It is commonly factual that people and human activities attract other people. Generally, people gather with and move about with others and seek to place themselves near others. New activities begin in the vicinity of events that are already in progress. (Gehl, 2011) (Gameren, 2013) (Avermaete, 2013)


The chapter of the sub-system public space consist out of several paragraphs. The challenges and ambitions that lead to a problem statement and research question are discussed in the introduction. In the next two paragraphs are the current and the future (sub-)system discussed including topics as actors, technologies and regulations. These two (sub-)systems are compared in the fourth paragraph. Concluding from the comparison, a proposal is drawn up. Finally, the proposal for the sustainable transition of the sub-system public space is evaluated in relation to the other sub-systems. 


Habermas, J. (1974). The Structural Transformation of the Public Realm, For a detailed discussion of the concept of the public realm in the work of Jürgen Habermas, see Peter Hohendahl & Patricia Russian, ‘Jürgen Habermas: “The Public Realm” (1964)’ , in: New German Critique, no. 3 (Autumn, 1974), pp 45-48.

Avermaete, T. (2013). From unité to jussieu: the public realm as frame, substance and goal of architecture. In S. K. Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft Lecture series on architectural design , 102-117. Delft.

Gameren, D. (2013). Revisions of space: positioning and repositioning space in and around buildings. In S. K. Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft lecture series on architectural design , 118-140. Delft.

Gehl, J. (2011). Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space. New York: The Danisch Architectural Press.



Pinal Desai , Tatiana Armijos Moya