Recent debates have highlighted trends towards the privatisation of public space
and the incorporation of increased security measures to safeguard users. Literature
has also emphasised the move away from the traditional high street to suburban
shopping malls as part of an increased focus on the development of protected
consumption space. As public space continuously evolves, it is interesting to find
the emergence of a new type of controlled outdoor space that seems to reflect
characteristics of older traditional public spaces acting as a local gathering space
in suburbia, yet being very controlled within the boundaries of shopping malls and
reflecting strong patterns of consumption. The paper investigates this trend within
the capital city of South Africa, Pretoria, focusing on three quasi-public spaces. The
findings indicate that urban design continues to play a critical role in the incorporation
of characteristics that are traditionally associated with successful public spaces, but
with a strong emphasis on consumption in a controlled and secure environment.
At the same time, however, these spaces have also become a new type of village
commons in an increasingly polarised society and, hence, cannot simply be negated
as purely exclusive spaces.