Pedestrian Movement and Visual Orientation in Public Spaces

Shikha Gadru B.Arch


Urban public spaces have been described as places of gathering for social, economic or cultural purposes. It derives its form from the local context, land use and heritage of the city. To make these places legible, there has to be a visual connection between the elements.

Through this study, an attempt is made to understand the factors that affect the pedestrian movement in a public space and how visual access plays an important role in defining the image of a city through these spaces, keeping different climatic conditions in mind. It also aims to examine whether there exists a relationship between people’s behavior and their movement, and the visual fields created by spatial configuration. Literature studies related to human psychology and Gestalt’s theory forms an integral part of the study.

Three case studies were conducted in different climatic conditions of India, using mapping


tools, sketching, photographs and observational surveys. Factors like pedestrian access, landscape, landmarks and pathways were compared and analyzed. The results indicated that while some public spaces are used on a day to day basis, others are visited by tourists due to their historic importance. Further, it can be inferred that more the visually accessible a place is, more the number of pedestrians using the space. Another factor affecting the number of pedestrians is the type of activities happening in and around the public square.

In order to develop a public space of importance, it should be kept in mind that the space should provide pedestrian-friendly facilities that would increase the number of users, promote healthy living and increase social interaction among people.

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