Gender and urban space: An examination of a small Anatolian city
AuthorGüney, Yasemin İnce
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Public spaces can be defned as places of interaction, social encounter and exchange where groups with different interests converge. Accessible and open to everyone, they are designed for a variety of uses where people can participate in public life. They also contribute to the collective identity of the community as they represent the culture and values of its users. In recent decades, the different ways in which public spaces are used have been the subject of studies from different disciplines including but not limited to anthropology, geography, sociology, architecture, and urban planning. It has been argued that the way in which urban life is lived and experienced changes according to demographics of its users such as age, sex, and social class. In this study, the use of public spaces based on gender differences is analyzed using space syntax methodology. The context of the study is the city center of a small Anatolian town, Balıkesir, which is located in western Turkey. The methodology of the study includes a visibility analysis of the historic city center and pedestrian movement observations on the selected locations within this center. The results indicate that male users dominate the city center at all times while the density of women users is much lower, and is even lower than that of teenagers. A major contribution of this study is the fnding that there is a discrepancy between the most integrated streets in terms of visibility and the most densely used ones. Given that the users of this small Anatolian town are mostly its residents, this fnding suggests that for route-choice decisions,pedestrians utilize prior knowledge and experience of the city center more than the visual information provided to them via the geometry of the space.