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Public Space in Qatar


What is public space?

“(b) a common realm of streets, plazas, parks, malls, and buildings where access is unrestricted and strangers interact with each other (Madanipour, 2003; see also Hénaff and Strong, 2001)

Suggesting that any physical space can be ‘public’ in four major ways. It is space that:

  1. Openly accessible
  2. Uses common resources
  3. Has common effects
  4. Is used for the performance of public roles

The term “public space” has many implications that need to be defined in this context. Democracy and Public Space by John Parkinson provided the foundation for understanding this term.

What is public space? What does a public space need? Outlining three elements of access, meeting strangers and the common good/interest. The outline also provides an extensive understanding of the role of public space in spatial terms.

One of the most crucial parts of making a space public is access:

“It is freely accessible space, particularly space in which we encounter strangers.”  

The idea of free access is closely correlated with the idea of ownership and belonging.

“Freely accessible places where:”

‘everything that happens can be observed by anyone’,” (Geuss, 2001: 52) 

“While the idea of open accessibility is fundamental to many definitions of public space, the associated emphasis on strangers and unscripted encounters is more complex than some authors acknowledge.” 

What do people do in a public space?

Two major aspects of creating public space is the ability to meeting strangers and to serve a common good/ interest.

Meeting strangers

Unlike private spaces, where it’s much clearer who the space belongs to and who is a stranger. Free access locations encourages a diversity of people in a public space, thus allowing for the meeting of strangers and interaction,

“Where strangers are encountered whether one wants to or not, because everyone has free right of entry (Geuss, 2001: 52).”

The definition of space or clarity of function still doesn’t take away from being able to interact with strangers in an unchoreographed manner.

Common good/ interest

Why do people go to public space is mainly attached to a common good or interest; the outdoor park experience, the water front, the talk, the concert, the mall, for food, etc.

“The things that concern, affect, or are for the benefit of everyone, Arendt’s second sense of ‘public’ (1958: 52).” This realm includes ‘common goods’ (Hardin, 1968), goods like clean air and water, public transport”



61% Aspire zone and Villaggio Mall

  • Sports
  • Outdoor park
  • Shopping
  • Indoor walking

39% Souq Waqif

  • Adapted traditional market
  • Food
  • Outdoor walking
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
  • Culture

29% Corniche

  • Water front promenade
  • Outdoor park
  • Free
  • Walking space

What do people do there?

  • Mall/ Park
  • Walking / Shopping
  • Family / Family and friends
  • In the evening
  • Shopping and sports
  • Tradtional market
  • Water front /Walking outdoor


How do people spend their time?


  • 2-3 hours of income generation
  • 5-6 hours of leisure and cultural activity
  • 1 hour of learning and education


  • 6-7 hours of income generation
  • 3- 4 leisure and culture activity
  • 30- 25 minutes learning and education


1 Salama, Ashraf M. A., and Florian Wiedmann. “Dynamics of Population and Urban Environments of Doha.” In Demystifying Doha on Architecture and Urbanism in an Emerging City, 194-197. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2013.
2 The Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS),. Time Use Survey. doha: N.p., 2014. Print.
3 Hutzell, Kelly, and Rami El Samahy. “4dDoha: Buildings.” 4dDoha. 2013.
4 Parkinson, John. “Democratic Theory, Democratic Performance.” In Democracy and Public Space: The Physical Sites of Democratic Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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