Title page for ETD etd-05122006-170346


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mili, Judith E
Author's Email Address jmili@vt.edu
URN etd-05122006-170346
Title Reintroducing the Existential Dimension of the Public Square: An attempt to design a place in relation to its natural environment
Degree Master of Landscape Architecture
Department Landscape Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Emmons, Paul F. Committee Chair
Feuerstein, Marcia F. Committee Member
Holt, Jaan Committee Member
Yglesias, Caren L. Committee Member
Keywords
  • phenomenology of place
  • concrete space
  • genius loci
  • public square
  • urban morphology
  • Shirlington
Date of Defense 2005-09-09
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Abstract

A public square provides for a social cultural life to take place. The square ought to be located in the part of the city where human activities are the most intense. The edges of the square consist of the buildings that define its space. The architectural style of these buildings shapes the character of the square and embodies the social cultural circumstances of a society.

The experience of a public square goes beyond its structured aspects. In fact, each man-made place is located within a natural landscape that changes its appearances during the rhythm of the day and the seasons. It is the combination of the natural phenomena and the architecture that creates the atmosphere of a place. A total integration between these two elements constitutes the “spirit of place” or genius loci.

According to Heidegger, human settlement has an enclosure and any enclosure has a boundary. This is also true for the square, the boundary of which is formed by its surrounding buildings. However, this boundary is not continuous, as it is interrupted by pedestrian paths and streets that lead to the square. The quality of a square’s enclosure is related to the characteristic of the openings.

The aim of this design thesis is to conceive a public square for today’s social-cultural environment; a public square that is located within a cultural center at Shirlington, Arlington County, Virginia. The buildings of the center form an architectural unity that sets the stage for community events to take place. The articulation and the form of the buildings related to the natural environment make people feel that they were designed for them. This means a place where people can experience a strong feeling of location.

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