Measuring the relationship between spatial configuration, diversity and user behavior: A Post Occupancy Evaluation study in Istanbul’s peripheral districts

Ayse Ozbil Torun*, Demet Yesiltepe, Sertac Erten, Ozlem Ozer, Tugce Gurleyen, Ezgi Zunbuloglu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is a robust tool to systematically evaluate the effects of design decisions on spatial performance and to identify the relationship between the space and its users. Although there is a growing body of POE research on complex buildings, such as hospitals and education spaces, studies on the POE evaluation of public open spaces are limited. More importantly, few studies have investigated public squares designed at the periphery and how they are used.

This study aims to identify the extent to which spatial configuration of public squares is related to users’ behavior (i.e., modes/distances of access, level of satisfaction). For this purpose, we focused on four peripheral urban squares located in Istanbul, Turkey. The methodology applied in the study includes a synthesis of three types of expertise: 1) behavioral mapping of urban squares (through the analysis of patterns of use based on direct observation), 2) cognitive evaluation of spaces based on perceived factors (through user questionnaires), and 3) quantifying urban public spaces objectively (through the methodology of space syntax and urban morphology).

The results identify associations between objective characteristics of public spaces designed at the peripheral districts, patterns of use and users’ perception of these areas, to a certain extent. For example, the variety and intensity of activities within the square as well as the length of occupancy are highest for Avcılar square, which is most integrated within its urban surroundings with reduced average block size. An important finding is the association between the average street connectivity levels of these squares with their pedestrian catchment areas. In other words, the more integrated a public urban space is with its surroundings (800mt buffers), its users will access this space on foot from a larger distance. Based on these findings, spatial configuration as measured by space syntax measures appears to be an explanatory measure assessing the potentiality of public open spaces for bringing users together, hence, creating a lively, well-used space. However, the results also point to some disagreements between the perceived (users’ evaluations) and objective (syntactic analysis) measurements, which indicate that both types of measurements are needed in POE research of public spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)84-102
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Design for Resilience in Architecture and Planning
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2020


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