A Cohesive Downtown From a Knowledge City Perspective – A Study in Urban Planning

The escalating urbanization process has given rise to various complications in the urban structure. One of the major issues is the one concerning urban cohesion. As modern cities are facing a transformation from industrial to knowledge societies, many aspects have to be taken into consideration in the planning of cities.

This thesis aims to study the significance of a cohesive city centre from a social and spatial point of view, and to understand modern cities’ development towards innovative Knowledge Cities. The objective is to present proposals for how a unification of a fragmented downtown can be made possible seen from a Knowledge City perspective.

The two main research questions of this thesis are answered by literary reviews of existing theories in urban planning, by a case study of the downtown area in the Swedish city of Jönköping, and finally also by a design proposal showing on how urban cohesiveness can be obtained from a Knowledge City perspective.

If cities are to become successful knowledge cities they have to promote culture, attractiveness and above all an innovative urban environment. Innovation is mainly achieved by so called “innovation engines” – simple urban elements, such as a café or a library. For innovation to emerge, human interaction and meetings have to occur in the urban environment, why innovation engines are key factors in the development towards knowledge cities. As human interaction is maximized in the simple meetings between people, added interaction possibilities are enabled in public spaces such as a square or a pedestrian street.

Public spaces are used as a tool for assembling people in the city. They have positive impact on the city only when they are part of a whole, and works as a network system in the urban structure. This is why urban cohesiveness is essential in the planning of modern cities. Public space is a fundamental feature in the urban structure, endorsing coherence, urban quality and human affiliation, making it an essential element if a city is to be coherent.

Cohesion in public spaces can be regulated by the design and planning of cities and either stimulate or dampen the public areas. Gathering people creates opportunities for people to interact on an individual level and thereby stimulate each other, and it is people that need to be gathered rather than buildings. Urban activities and the complementarity between public spaces needs to promote social dynamics, which in turn enhances the urban experience, enables urban cohesion and minimizes social exclusion and urban fragmentation.
Source: Jönköping University
Author: Jacobson, Alma

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