Our physical environment is changing continuously under the effect of natural, cultural and economic systems which influence people’s lifestyles. As lifestyles change, people’s way of spending their leisure time and leisure activity preferences also change. Urban open public spaces such as parks seem to lose their popularity as shopping malls have become the new leisure centers due to the increasing need “to consume” of today’s societies. Changing leisure and recreational preferences of middleclass citizens of Ankara are the focus of this study. Leisure and recreational preferences, and the factors affecting these preferences, are investigated and analyzed through questionnaires. The findings suggest that people tend to spend their leisure time indoors as their first choice, and if they prefer going out, shopping malls are the favorite places to spend their leisure time rather than open and green spaces. Multifacility, climate control and security are the most important factors that affect the preference for shopping malls. However, the increasing popularity of shopping malls may cause a decrease in the use of and importance assigned to open and green spaces, resulting in poor urban life quality. Authorities and related disciplines should define the leisure behavior patterns of the public to develop appropriate policies and strategies that would promote the quality of urban life.
Key words: Leisure, changing preferences, shopping malls, parks, Ankara.
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