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Conference paper

This research answers questions about the actual social life happening in the context of privately owned public space in Melbourne. Moreover, it explores questions about the social characters of activities in POPSs.

From the 1970s, a type of public space has been formed based on government and private sector partnership named as privately-owned public space initiated from the United States. Over the last five decades, the aims and regulations of this kind of public space have been developed, but they still have ambiguous design and management practices as policy-made public spaces. The idea of the increasing privatization of public spaces has been discussed as a concerning issue rather than a positive approach toward public space improvement. Concerns about ‘reduction in diversity and freedom of forms of public life and the undermining of democracy’ have been debated by researchers and advocates in public space. Many authors declare it as the ‘decline of public space’ and ‘the end of public space’. On the other side, recent researchers believe that public spaces have not experienced such extreme situations and have more optimistic viewpoints toward POPSs. However, they agree that changes in forms, functions, and appearance have happened in privatized public spaces.

A specific type of privately-owned public space is formed for development purposes based on new regulations in New York; private developers must contribute to the public realm on the ground floor if they want taller towers. These contributions happen through creating both indoor and outdoor spaces. The indoor type of public spaces has been created as urban plazas under towers, open to public users; however, they are usually perceived as private spaces and exclusive upon paying or being a community member. Understanding design, management, and social use of privately- owned public spaces are limited to a few types of research that are usually focused on American cities, especially New York. It is essential to study POPSs in other countries like Australia and understand how they work based on local policies and regulations. There is no empirical research focused on POPSs regarding their functions, typologies and design and management practices in Australian POPSs, especially in Melbourne.

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