Dissertation defence (Landscape Studies): MA Žieda Tamašauskaitė


1.3.2024 at 12.00 - 16.00
MA Žieda Tamašauskaite defends the dissertation in Landscape Studies titled “Publicness of Public Space in the Contemporary City: Insights from Helsinki, Finland” at the University of Turku on 01 March 2024 at 12.00 (Tieteiden talo, Room 505, Kirkkokatu 6, 00710 Helsinki).

Opponent: University Lecturer Antti Wallin (Tampere University)
Custos: Professor Maunu Häyrynen (University of Turku)

Doctoral Dissertation at UTUPub: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-9609-4


Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation:

When you think about the city, what image does your mind build up? If you asked me, I would say that I imagine places crowded with people and activities, places full of life. Basically, when I think about the city, I think about public spaces. This is also what I study and write about in my dissertation – the hustle and bustle of the contemporary city, city dwellers and their activities, the square and the shopping mall. My aim is to develop a deeper understanding of public space and to identify what the publicness of public space implies and how it is practiced and produced in different public spaces.

In pursue of the aim, I turn to Helsinki and visit Narinkka Square, Tennispalatsi Square and Kamppi Shopping Centre - three vibrant spaces open for public use. Having familiarized myself with the design of the spaces, I observe how people use them, what activities they carry out, what influences their choices and how different activities and user groups interact. After more than a hundred hours spent observing the spaces, I come up with some striking and thought-provoking insights.

Let me share with you some of my insights. My study showed that Narnikka Square, Tennispalatsi Square and Kamppi Shopping Centre are highly comparable in their use. I also found the spaces functionally intertwined and dependent (to some extent) upon each other for users and activities. Observing the spaces, I could witness how various activities intermixing and intertwining in intricate ways manage to produce complex systems of activities that are comparable in their complexity despite differences in the activities that they comprise.

On the bases of my findings, I conclude that in the contemporary city, the publicness of public space is primarily activity-based, and different public spaces are likely to vary in their publicness as much as they vary in the activities that their users carry out. Different activities (re)produce publicness of a different kind or quality, but this does not mean that the publicness of different spaces differs in degree. Each public space is of unique publicness and has a special contribution to make to the public space in the contemporary city.

Welcome to find out more and to share your insights from different cities and public spaces.
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