Go to any academic conference with a focus on public space (of which there are many) and one can never fail to be struck by the pessimistic, almost despairing, view that many researchers purvey about the state of contemporary public space in Western (and increasingly Eastern) cities. The critiques of public space that result are situated within and emerge from a wider critique of the neo-liberal orthodoxy that pervaded political and policy agendas in the latter years of the twentieth and early years of the twenty-first centuries. This orthodoxy, the argument goes, gave free rein to the market to shape urban space in its own interests – the shopping mall, corporate business park, gated residential enclave, etc. – whilst the public sector was relegated to the margins; providing the infrastructure for the necessary car-borne movement between the fragmented episodes of development, or dealing with the fall-out from a market that ignores that to which it has no relationship: the poor and the dispossessed and the places in-between. The result, it is argued, is public space that whilst meeting a certain set of private objectives for those who are lucky enough to own it (profitable, value adding, cost-effective), or the needs of those who are fortunate enough to be able to use it (clean, safe, convenient), may fail to meet the requirements of a wider public interest (open, equitable, sustainable) and of the full diversity of users that make up society.