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By : Tigran Haas

Buildings alone do not matter, it is only the ensemble of streets, squares, and buildings and the way they fit together that comprises the true principles of good urbanism and place making. One of the main rules of good urban design is the quality of the public space. This paper analyzes the importance of creating & maintaining a true public square in contemporary urban condition, as one of the built environments' pillars for sustaining social and cultural identity. Criticism has been posed towards the (neo) romanticizing the importance of European squares (as some critics would call it "Postcard Squares") in everyday life and contemporary town planning. Movements such as New Urbanism, which promote good urban design have not put squares that high on their urban design agendas. Also the usage of the historic European city's public realm model - the square - as the important ingredient for all urban places has not been forthcoming. To investigate this phenomena, and facilitate the discourse, The Square of the St. Blaise Church (Luza Square) and the Gunduliceva Poljana Square in the Old City of Dubrovnik, are analyzed and reflected upon through various data collection, theory reflections and urban design evaluation methods, such as Garham's Sense of Place Typology-Taxonomy. If cities have livable and vibrant social spaces, do residents tend to have a stronger sense of community and sense of place? If such places are lacking, does the opposite happen?. This paper seeks out to answer these questions. Finally the paper also looks at how the phenomenon of creating good social spaces through creating 'third places' is achieved and confirmed in the squares of Dubrovnik.
Keywords : European Square, Third place, Urban Design; Dubrovnik, New urbanism, Public Spaces, Cultural Heritage, Taxonomy, European City Model.

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