Project Duration
2011 - 2017
PhD Candidate
Els Leclercq
Wouter Vanstiphout

The privatization of public space – user perception and urban design outcomes.

PhD research by Els Leclercq


Research Summary
In recent decades local government started to shift responsibilities that were formerly regarded as seen as public, to the private sector, public private partnerships or to individuals. Many examples can be seen throughout the Western world whereby maintenance is outsourced to private companies or to a group of local residents, and even cases whereby originally public spaces have turned into private hands. The gap that has been left by a retreating local government, with the emphasis on a more facilitating role rather than a leading role, is being filled with the arrival of private interests in all facets of the production of public space. This research analyses the public – private divide in three case studies in Liverpool in three different ways: from the producers, from the consumers (the users) and from the independent designer’s point of view.

Els Leclercq is PhD researcher at Design as Politics. She is an experienced urban designer and a published researcher. She is director of the urban design practice Studio Aitken, both based in London and Rotterdam. Her design expertise lies in delivering a range of planning, design and development projects for the public and private sectors including urban analysis, design, masterplanning and project management. In her research she focuses on whether the European ‘urban renaissance’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has delivered the regenerative revival it promised to deliver, particularly concentrating on the privatisation issues related to the production of space. Contact:


Plannen voor mensen, handbook sociaal-ruimtelijke planning
Loopmans, M., Leclercq, E., Newton, C.
Garant publishers, Apeldoorn-Antwerpen (2011)

By Design, better places to live
Design guide produced for DETR and CABE (2001)

Ruimtelijke Rechtvaardigheid in een Nederlands jasje?
AGORA Magazine voor sociaalruimtelijke vraagstukken, pag 12-14. (2012)

Politics of (re)designing public space – a case study of the city centre of Mechelen
Leclercq, E., Zawawi, Z.
Conference presentation at Public Space and the challenges or urban transformation in Europe, SKuOR, Vienna (2010)

Het plan voor de internationale ontwikkeling van Brussel; een verhaal van up-scaling, by-passing en evacuatie van het stedelijk beleid.
Casabella, N., Cassiers, T., Leclercq, E., Vermeulen, S.
Conference presentation at Plandag 2010 ´Ruimtelijke Ordening in crisis´(2010)

On good intentions and its dubieus consequences – analysing the urban vision in Ghent and Liege.
Cassiers, T., Leclercq, E.
Conference presentation at ´The new urban question´ International Forum on Urbanism (2009)

Sociale planning: het ruimtelijk determinisme voorbij
Loopmans, M., Leclercq, E., Newton, C.
Ruimte en Planning (2009)

L’économie bruxelloise
Chr. Vandermotten, E. Leclercq, T. Cassiers, B. Wayens.
Brussels Studies (2009)