Public Space at the “Palm of a Hand”: Perceptions of Urban Projects Through Digital Media

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Public Space at the “Palm of a Hand”: Perceptions of Urban Projects Through Digital Media

  • Byron Ioannou Department of Architecture, Frederick University, Cyprus
  • Gregoris Kalnis Department of Architecture, Frederick University, Cyprus
  • Lora Nicolaou Department of Architecture, Frederick University, Cyprus

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 318 | Downloads: 79

Abstract:  This article examines the interactions between digital and social media as the contemporary incubators of place perceptions and the critical debate of environmental quality. Digital and social media may change the way people live but not the way they use physical spaces. This indirect reading of place acts in terms of perceptual understanding in a number of ways, but, most importantly, it becomes fundamental in the “construction” of the sense of place. This is because it impacts on the way information is associated with reality or a contract of the reality which is generated through its “interference” with our intellectual and emotive understanding of place. At the same time, the politics of a new “sociality” contains participations and exclusions. The article adopts comparative case study research as the methodological approach for investigating notions of how urban space is perceived through the case study of Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, a controversial urban regeneration project that generated an extensive debate through digital and social media in Cyprus during the last two decades. It is an attempt of a parallel decoding of (i) a more formal or directive view through digital newspapers’ survey and (ii) an informal view through a Facebook group content analysis. Through the case study, the inefficiencies and potentialities of the new media tools in informing the wider public are clear by providing at the same time evidence of their priorities, preferences, and fears. The article comes to two basic conclusions: (i) the perceptions of urban projects through digital media are not static but fluent and constantly updated, usually turning positive as projects are completed and experienced; and (ii) the interactive and synchronous nature of social media provides a more accurate and updated picture of the society’s changing perceptions of public space.

Keywords:  digital media; Eleftheria Square; Facebook groups; Nicosia; public space; urban design; urban regeneration; Zaha Hadid

Published:   17 November 2021


© Byron Ioannou, Gregoris Kalnis, Lora Nicolaou. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.