Kelbaugh speaks at Stockholm Conference on the nature of public spaces
Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning and former Dean Douglas Kelbaugh gave a lecture, “Cosmopolis: Community and the Public Realm,” at the Athena Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 16, 2016. He discussed similarities and differences in the form and social behavior between traditional public spaces in Western countries and in Arab countries. In the West, geometrically formal public squares and plazas are the setting for informal, secular and permissive behavior; in the Middle East, it is the reverse – organic, informal and residually shaped urban space requires formal, religiously regulated behavior.. After elaborating on this divergence, he brought the discussion into the present by speculating on the impact of the exponential growth of personal electronic devices used in public. While they create a new paradox of disconnected solitude in shared, common space, their impact may not be as anti-social as generally assumed, as they allow and encourage people to spend more time in streets and plazas.