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Journal Articles Places. A Forum of Environmental Design Year : 2001

Frames of Visibility in Public Places


A place is generally considered to be public when it is accessible to all, when every person can be physically present and circulate freely within it. Conversely, a place is considered to be private when access is controlled, reserved to certain people. Yet physical access is simply one mode of access among others, since our body experiences space through each of its senses: sight, of course, but also hearing, touch and smell. A place can provide partial accessibility without the actual presence of one's body since « the actual senses which measure proximity, which qualify presence, are senses at a distance». For example, looking through an office window at what is happening in the street or listening to a conversation taking place in an adjacent room are potential modes of access to public places. Public places can thus be characterized according to their degree of porosity, or according to the possibilities they offer for perceiving objects and people at a distance. Rather than considering the publicness of a place solely as a function of its architectural and spatial form or its degree of openness, it is appropriate to question a full range of sensory qualities of a place.
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hal-01560019 , version 1 (11-07-2017)


Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives - CC BY 4.0


  • HAL Id : hal-01560019 , version 1


Jean-Paul Thibaud. Frames of Visibility in Public Places. Places. A Forum of Environmental Design, 2001, 14 (n°1), pp. 42 - 47. ⟨hal-01560019⟩
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