The public realm has given birth to alternative social spaces that have been created as a means of replenishing the loss of open space within the modern city. The creation of more hybrid building forms and typologies that balance open space within high density development is a phenomenon increasingly being realised in Asian cities, and has started to redefine the tall building within the city. This thesis focuses on two semi-‐public social spaces that cross the urban-‐architectural-‐landscape boundaries -‐ skycourts and skygardens.
It considers them in light of their social, economic, environmental and spatial contribution to the urban habitat. The thesis argues that they are ‘alternative’ social spaces that form part of a broader, multi-‐level open space infrastructure that replenishes the loss of open space within the urban habitat. It sets out to illustrate how such semi-‐public spaces can be incorporated into high-‐rise structures, and be suitably placed into a hierarchy that supports the primary figurative spaces on the ground or, in their absence, create them in the sky.
It was observed that skycourts and skygardens have become another social space within the urban vocabulary of the city, yet currently remains predominantly managed by the corporation or landowner that controls them. They are differentiated from their public counterparts by the fact that they can never be truly public unless they become ceded to state ownership and permit the individual, group or association the freedoms of speech, action and movement that one normally finds in the public domain of the street and the square.
Despite not being public spaces, skycourts and skygardens have evolved given changing social, spatial, environmental, cultural, economic and technological needs that have engendered public domain characteristics. This may bode well for society’s co-‐presence and may enhance urban life quality as well as the natural and built environment.