Universally, there are essentially four common guiding principles adopted by councils in the designing of public squares (City of Vancouver: Plaza Design Guidelines, 1992). Although these principles may range and be tweaked from region to region; these principles are namely; context in which deals with visibility, views and linkages; safety in terms of design, accessibility, lighting and public features; environment in terms of thermal comfort and design sensitivity; and lastly user attraction in terms of activity generators, amenities and materiality. These four values may be taken as a framework in accessing the success of a square.
2.1.2. Open spaces in Malaysia
Open spaces in Malaysia are a product of cross-culture. Some are an introduction of western culture in the East while others are a product of more complex evolution and experimentation (Federal Department of Town and Country Planning, Peninsular Malaysia [FDTCPPM], 2005). The British played a significant role in laying the foundation of open spaces in Malaysia by introducing the ubiquitous ‘padang’ and parks as an integral part of the country’s urban environment. The simple piece of green lawn functions as a social platform for community, for sports and as a parade ground for the police and army (FDTCPPM, 2005). The concept of ‘padang’ has been ingrained into the local culture very early on and remains as the most flexible and defined form of public open space in Malaysia. Some of the more popular ‘padangs’ in Malaysia are Dataran Merdeka, Padang Astaka PJ, and Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS). Locally up till more recent times the ‘padang’ played the same role as public squares and plazas do in the western world.
2.1.3. Evolution of concept of Open Spaces in Malaysia
In the city, the ‘padang’ typology is one that is not going to be brought forward due to the demand of land for development which sees no place for open fields of grass (Harun et.al, 2009). ‘Padangs’ however do and will continue to exist as a typology in the outskirts of town as well as in the suburbs. Plazas and public squares have become a more common notion of a public space in modern Kuala Lumpur. These public spaces are often attached to or within close proximity to shopping complexes which has arguably become a part of the Malaysian culture. They often function as spill over spaces and are highly legible in terms of providing way finding for people. Although these spaces are located outside the complex they still remain guarded and are more semi public rather than public (Harun et.al, 2009).
Up till recently, there seemed to be somewhat of an uncertainty in the usage of public squares and plazas in Malaysia. This may be due to various reasons such as the local context, culture, weather, security, etc. Culturally, due to the association of ‘padang’ as ‘the’ open space which is almost entirely softscape, which suggest that one may conduct activities such as to kick a...