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The social life of commercial streets

conference contribution
posted on 2015-07-31, 00:00 authored by Leila Mahmoudi Farahani, Mirjana LozanovskaMirjana Lozanovska, A Soltani
The social life of cities is a key concept related to social cohesion, which has been the subject of extensive studies in several disciplines including sociology, psychology and the built environment. Social life studies conducted in the built environment discipline have mostly focused on city centres; while the significance of neighbourhoods as integral elements have been sometimes overlooked. As a result, this research will specifically explore commercial streets in residential suburbs. Suburbs are frequently perceived to be lacking in vitality and street life. The method of inquiry in this research investigates how the physical characteristics of commercial streets can either promote, affect or mitigate the social life of neighbourhoods and generate a sociable environment. Therefore, this study captures the social behaviour of three commercial streets in Geelong, Australia. This paper utilizes a qualitative approach to the study of the social life of commercial streets. The primary methodology used in this research is recording, documenting and mapping users’ activities through behavioural observation. The observations have been conducted in four days (on two weekdays and two weekends). The case study has been divided into eight sections that are similar in length. Short movies of 30 seconds have been recorded from each section, every two hours from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Afterwards, the movies have been transmitted into street mappings, documenting the type of activities, placement of activities, gender and approximate age by exploiting suitable pictograms. There are several physical characteristics that are believed to be contributing to the social
life of commercial streets. This study utilizes a bottom-up approach to evaluate the complexities of the role that built environment plays in terms of vitality through the three selected characteristics, including typomorphology and street layout, diversity of uses, and soft facades. Better understanding of how neighbourhood environments influence the
social life of neighbourhoods can provide academics and professionals in architecture and urban design with sound evidence on which to base future research and design.



Making Cities Liveable Conference (8th : 2015 : Melbourne, Vic.)


35 - 52


Association for Sustainability in Business Inc.


Melbourne, Vic.

Place of publication

Nerang, Qld

Start date


End date






Publication classification

E Conference publication; E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2015, Association for Sustainability in Business



Title of proceedings

Proceedings of the 8th Making Cities Liveable Conference : Liveable Cities for the Future

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