Antonella Radicchi

Antonella Radicchi

Architect and Urbanist, PhD


Figure above: Map of the small quiet areas, crowdsourced with the Hush City app in Manhattan.


In New York, privately owned public spaces (POPS) are spaces owned and managed by the private sector and accessible to the public by law. They are created by developers in exchange for the provision of space or tax reduction, and are regulated by zoning policies. A scrutiny of previous studies about New York City POPS shows that no studies have explicitly evaluated them as spaces that can provide “opportunities for quiet respite” from the city, nor have they focused on the physical and immaterial characteristics which can make these spaces beneficial for our physical and mental health. I addressed this gap in literature in the article: “Are privately owned public spaces effective design and planning tools that can favour the creation of healthy, public spaces in contemporary cities? Notes from an empirical study in New York“,  where I present the results of an empirical study I conducted in New York in the Spring 2019. After providing an overview of the evolution of the regulatory status of POPS in New York, the fieldwork study is introduced, and the empirically grounded methods, drawn from auto-ethnography and soundscape studies, are presented. Subsequently, results are outlined, consisting of a map of twenty spaces, selected by applying a qualitative approach to data synthesis informed by the Sixteen Hush City Qualities framework. In conclusion, limitations of the study are discussed and preliminary recommendations are given, referring to the NYC Zoning Resolution. Further research will be needed to fully assess these findings and finalize them in the form of recommendations, which could inform planners and policy makers on how to continue their goals in developing regulations that can guide the private sector to produce healthy urban environments.

The article, written in English, is free and open access, published in Talia M. (ed), La città contemporanea: un gigante dai piedi d’argilla. Proceedings of the International Conference Urbanpromo XVI edizione Progetti per il Paese. Planum Publisher, Roma-Milano, pp. 340-346. SBN 9788899237226




This research study in New York was part of the “Hush City Mobile Lab” project (2018-2020), conducted by Dr. Antonella Radicchi as the principal investigator, and supported by the HEAD-Genuit Foundation (grant number: P-17/08-W). The support of the Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. During the research stay the author was visiting HEAD-Genuit Foundation Senior Fellow at the New York University, hosted by NYU Prof. Tae Hong Park. The author is grateful to Dr. Arline Bronzaft and NYU Prof. Park for their precious mentorship during the research stay as well as to the public officials, scholars, professionals, activists and soundwalkers for their generous participation in the research and dissemination activities.