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Public Space, Designers and Power – The Influences of Social Norms and Public Behaviour on British Urban Design

Part 1 Dissertation 2022
Simone Geneser Jackson
University of Kent | UK
Particularly in recent years, the dynamics of cities and urban spaces have become a popular topic of discussion, becoming increasingly more relevant with events such as the rise of right-wing regimes, the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the war on terror, the global spread of capitalism, and the explosion of the internet. At a time of enormous societal upheaval, change and instability, it is more important than ever before to attempt to understand how our modern society works, why the world seems to be spiralling into social and political chaos, and whether anything can be done to prevent these outcomes within the scope of urban design. This essay discusses in detail the effect of social, political and physical factors on the way public space is designed, as well as how design itself can be implemented for social engineering. Assuming that it is the architect’s aim to design public spaces in a way that will best benefit the people who use it, understanding how social norms and policy affect the design of public space becomes critical. Finally, we will attempt to answer the main question of the discussion: do designers have too much power to dictate the use of public space?
Simone Geneser Jackson

Silvio Caputo
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