Page 1





Understanding the Quotient of Placemaking: Potentials in Designed Public Places GUIDED BY: Prof. Snehal Nagarsheth (Faculty of Design, CEPT University) The research thesis involves three main steps: First step is developing a research based theory on the topic; Second, to select studies according to the theorization and conducting a thorough analysis of the places with drawings, illustrations, etc. to support it; and the third step is to derive conclusions based on the observations and in reference to the initial theory research. The following content provides brief of thesis proposal, one case study and some inferences.

Introduction The concept of ‘Placemaking’ originated in 1960s when writers Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte coined ideas about designing cities that catered to people, not just to automobiles and infrastructures. This concept of making public places more user oriented is specifically important issue at present when the public places are becoming ma jor backdrops for social interactions both at urban and small scale. There are different kinds of public places based on the access and functions provided. For instance, a theatre has a specific function where people come to watch a movie, or in a shop, where the user enters for a definite purpose of buying products or to see the display. In such places the users are bound by certain function or elements and there forth, the user’s behavior is defined. On the other hand, public places like theatre lobby, or the alter of the mall or a garden are places that offer the users liberty to perform their own function and thus allowing them to interpret the public nature of the place. Other than aforementioned places, eating places in our country are the only other public places that allow users the freedom to appropriate the place beyond the primary function (i.e. eating). People come there to have interactions, talk, read book, listen to music and sit in group or individually over meal or a drink. The thesis will arrive to the concept of Placemaking after it traces through understanding the place and public place’s function and relation with its users. Subsequently the Behavioral setting and its importance in Placemaking [Fig. 1] will be studied through instances from work of Randy Hester, Eubank Ahrens and Jon Lang. The thesis restricts itself to study only eating places and not amorphous spaces like garden, corridors, etc. because there is an assigned function to the places but it does allow users the freedom to appropriate the place as they desire to certain extend. Moreover, formal restaurants will not be considered for the research as their setting does not allow public to stay for a long period of time for social interaction without (or after) ordering the food, and they do not permit the user to inhabit the elements and spaces as per their desires. The detailed analysis of the case studies will be done to understand the user’s needs and behavior through their appropriation of elements, furniture, empty spaces and by noting where they go beyond what is provided or allowed.

Research cover


Aim and Objective The study is survey based, where the aim is to observe the vital facets of a user’s behavior (like territoriality, personal space, social interaction, self-actualization and identity) and the user’s appropriation of a designed environment, which will form the foundation for the inclusion of the said parameters in design in order to achieve the needs of the user as well as activities, thus finally achieving Placemaking.

The objective is to: • • • • •

Survey the designed eating places (public places) of different institutions Analyze the nature of activities taking place with reference to its context and location Observe the behavioral setting of the occupants Deduce the socio - psychological needs of the users and how the place gets appropriated in the lean and the peak hours of the eating place, while maintaining their needs Draw a behavioral paradigm according to user type divided according to the age.

Research questions In the process of understanding the quotient of Placemaking through observing the behavioral setting of a public eating place, the research seeks to answer the following questions: 1. 2. 3.

How does the public eating places get appropriated? What should the design be providing for the place to function? Are there commonality in affordances of the public places? If yes, what are these common attributes (paradigm) in elements use and behavior and what do they signify?

The research is inspired by the works of Jon Lang, Christopher Alexander, Kim Dovey, Ray Oldenburg and many more, which provides with invaluable insights on design, placemaking, behavior study and other aspects like context, location etc. of a designated place be it indoors or outdoors. The case study is carried out for 4 public eating places: 1. 2. 3. 4.

CEPT University Canteen, Ahmedabad Prithvi Cafe, Mumbai Natarani Cafe, Ahmedabad Zen Cafe, Ahmedabad

Conclusions are drawn from the study and a behavior and element appropriation paradigm is inferred at the end.

Fig: 1




Use of Place by the user The appropriated seating areas are the same as the intended seating areas as the tables as well as the seating surfaces are fixed. Furthermore, there are no extra chairs or stools available and no levels to sit on.

Time Mapping and Location The study was carried out from the lean hours to the peak hours from 1600 hrs to 1900 hrs.The location of the users are marked on the plans and the time intervals between the plan are according to the change happening in the place.


1600 hrs

1730 hrs


1630 hrs

1800 hrs

1700 hrs

1900 hrs

Time Mapping and Location Survey

Elements Used At Natarani cafe the users prefer the following elements to sit, eat or to have a conversation:


1 • •

It is right in front of the cafe counter so it is easy to know when the order is ready Optimum dimension of the seating suitable for groups as well as pairs

• •

Area used by people to get away from other users and to smoke. Does not face other user groups to be bothered by smoking.

3 •

Located away from the counter, at the end of the cafe and wall in the front offer more privacy and a sense of closeness, generally preferred by individuals or couples.

Individuals are seen more often at Natarani cafe than in other cafes as it allows them to sit alone in privacy, they prefer spots that are farther from the counter or has a wall or other elements in front


Analysis for Natarani Cafe • • • • • • • • • •


Natarani cafe is a small place with 9 tables and all the seatings are fixed with curved partitions as their backrests. This partially divideds the cafe into different areas. The users gets both visual and physical territory, and so, a sense of privacy. They are not completely isolated from the other users but, they do not feel disturbance because of them. Moreover, they do not need to make adjustments because of the new incoming users. The cafe does not have any moveable seatings, so the users orient themselves and use postures to decrease or increase proximity. Furthermore, this does not allow them to fully use the place as they desire. The actualization needs are not fully comprehended by the fixed seatings of the cafe. All the seatings offer same feature for everyone to use. The free form seatings gets percieved by the users as casual and that also lead users to frequent informal behavior. It is rarely visited by the users under the age of 15, unless they are there for the Darpana academy. It does not offer much place for them to run or play. Users in the age group 25 to 35 are most prominent. They come individually, or as couples or in groups. They use elements that can fit there groups. They do not opt for extreme casual postures, but they are seen sitting cross-legged on the seating. The users who smoke generally use the elements near the entrance so that it does not bother other users. Users doe not frequent postures like sitting cross-legged as the sitting element is rough in texture and sitting with legs down is more comfortable.

Final Conclusion (Gist) The analysis of the case studies led to various common observations, which can be used to deduce a paradigm in the elements used and the user’s behaviors. The elements use paradigms are as follows:






Group seating:

As the edges spread, the activities grow and the whole place becomes lively

Two kinds of location of the steps with regards to the main activity

Zen Cafe

main activity

CEPT canteen

Various group sitting elements

CEPT canteen 4.

Natarani Cafe

Prithvi Cafe

Zen Cafe

Shaded area:

Kinds of shaded areas in the study fulfilling different needs

Zen Cafe

CEPT Canteen

Prithvi Cafe

Other then the aforementioned elements there are these two elements appropriation were inferred in the four case study: Flexible sitting elements, Symbolic territories. Moreover, a paradigm in behavior setting was also inferred in the thesis (not mentioned here to avoid lengthiness in content) The ultimate aim of architecture and interior design as one that interprets the place phenomenologically (an aspect of philosophy researching into the experience of built space). When the designer’s responsibility is to make the built form in harmony with the needs of the individuals, groups, society and nature.

That is when a designed place becomes Placemaking.


Jeevika bassan Thesis  
Jeevika bassan Thesis