Teenagers have no obvious right to spaces of their own. They often have nowhere else to go but outdoor places, where they often come in conflict with other groups. This dilemma is explored in the paper. The aim is to discuss the relations that arise in the use of public space by youth and how social and cultural aspects are internalized in particular places. What is the relation between urban public space and different youth cultures? How does young people construct their own private and public places and in what ways are such relations conflict-ridden or in harmony with other groups and interests? Can processes of exclusion and/or inclusion be observed?The role of urban public space as a place for chats and discussions, for events with innovative character, for commerce and leisure and as a meeting point is one of the most significant assets of urban life. Since ancient times, public space has contained the essence of urbanity and the relation between private and public space represents one of the big dichotomies in the Western worlds' thoughts. Even so, public space has to be re-constructed, re-used and re-understood as the spirit of the times changes.Based on empirical studies in Sweden, the paper describes how teenagers use public spaces in their local environments to create meaning and context in their existence. It points to what places they use, what kind of characteristics these places have and how the teenagers use them. Camera surveillance, organized parent patrols and other forms of control of public space will be explored. A combination of qualitative and quantitative measures where used and data has been collected through questionnaires, interviews, participant observation and mental mapping,Results from two ongoing research projects will be discussed. The first project is about the urban renewal process of the former industrial Swedish city Landskrona where a considerate number of local community projects collaborate to achieve better everyday conditions for the citizens. The second project is about the development of a new urban area in the West Harbor district of Malmö, where focus will be on the collaboration between the planning authorities and youth organizations in the design and management of a new public skate park. The theoretical framework share common features with participatory action research (PAR) addressing local environments, life forms and lifestyles. The concepts 'places of retreat', 'places of interaction' and 'free zones' will be discussed in relation to ideas about planning/design, organization and management of urban public space.The outcome can be linked to health and sustainable development by raising questions like: What is the relation between urban public space and different youth cultures? How can public space be designed and organized to meet the needs and interests of young people? How can young people actively participate in the planning and management of urban public space?