Density and Spatial Quality: High Density and Perceived Spatial Quality on the Transition from Public to Private Spaces
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This paper proposes an unconventional approach to the concept of sustainability in the built environment. The central argument is that spatial quality is a key aspect in the sustainability of urban environments. The main areas for discussion regarding urban sustainability, however, are economic and technical matters, while the quality of architectural and urban design solutions are frequently not taken into consideration in this debate. The survival of a piece of architecture through time depends greatly on its added value to the context, and consequently the longer it lasts, the more efficient the use of the resources. The integration of a building to its context, in other words the way it relates to its environment, is strongly represented by the perceived spatial quality defined in this paper, in which the transition between the public and private domains plays an important role. Perceptual spatial quality is defined in this study as a conjunction of features that involve building typology, daylight incidence, mixed usage, the relationship between a building’s street level and its direct surroundings, transitions between public, collective and private spaces, and privacy levels. These aspects are analysed by using case studies in very different high density urban contexts located in Sao Paulo (Brazil), Medellin (Colombia), Tokyo (Japan), Rotterdam and Amsterdam (the Netherlands).