Category Design for Outdoor Recreation


As briefly explained in Chapter 2, the visit starts with planning and the anticipation of what enjoyment might be gained from the visit in prospect. Managers and designers can influence this through the quality of information that is made available to the prospective visitor. Leaflets that promote attractions are commonly provided at tourist information centres, in hotels, in libraries and at a number of other places. Tourists are frequently bombarded with a wide range of leaflets, so that the choice of where to go may depend on the impressions conveyed by the cover and main text.

While wishing to present the destination in the best light in order to attract visitors, it is important to be honest in the information and images used...


The journey to the destination

In the last chapter, several key concepts to be applied to the design of recreation sites, facilities and artefacts were considered. The need to reflect the character of the setting, to contrast and avoid urban qualities and therefore to use an appropriate and site-specific range of materials and finishes was emphasized. This concern for the setting and the experience that it helps to invoke was balanced with a concern for the needs of the visitors. The sequence of actions, decisions, impressions and feelings that actually constitute the experience of a visit are influenced by the setting, the facilities, the information and the ambience present in the visited destination...


The design of the visit

So far in this chapter the issue of design concepts most appropriate to the landscape setting has been considered, and how this contributes to the experience a visitor might expect. This issue should also be turned around and considered from the visitor’s point of view. What do visitors expect from their visit to the outdoors, particularly in the facilities, help and information provided, to help them obtain the best experience and to persuade them to return? Many of the perceived problems that managers have are not from visitors behaving badly so much as their requirements being inadequately thought through, so that conflicts inadvertently occur...


A design philosophy for the outdoors

Arguably, it is therefore important to maintain and reflect the character of the landscapes in the design of facilities and artefacts, while providing many functions that are the same as those needed at home, as well as reinforcing the contrast between the city and the more natural landscapes of the outdoors.

However, it is possible to develop designs that are more redolent of the stylized settings of Tolkien or Disney than those reflecting the real qualities of nature. This must be avoided, as must all forms of pastiche or superficial imitation, in favour of honest, robust, simple, unobtrusive designs, which serve to provide their function with the minimum of fuss. These must not upstage the greater landscape setting that people have come to enjoy.

At this point we can return to the Recre...


Contrasts between city and wilderness

One of the major reasons why people go to the wilder, more natural areas is to escape from the daily life of the city. As societies become more urbanized, and as people tend to work less in industries such as agriculture or forestry, they tend to lose the sense of connection with the land that such work brings. The life of a city dweller, culturally rich as it may be, tends for many people to be stressful in some way, dominated by timetables

of transport and work. The city is crowded; this is not always a negative situation, given the gregariousness of the human species, but personal space is often limited. The city is also almost completely a human construction. In large metropolises, there may be very little remaining of the natural landscape that once existed...


Design concepts for outdoor recreation

In the last chapter, some of the trends in recreation demands and the expectations that people have when they visit the outdoors were examined. How to realize the opportunities that a landscape offers, and how to zone or plan in order to meet the demand sustainably, were also considered. What emerged from this examination is that the quality of recreational experiences is significantly dependent on the quality of the setting in which the activity takes place. By this is meant the whole quality of the environment as perceived by the senses. Of the senses, sight is by far the most important, although smell, hearing and touch are also significant...


Shared benefits

There should be an equitable distribution of the costs and benefits (material and non­material) of any development. We are all ‘land users’ in our own ways. Access to the countryside confers great non-material benefits on those who can participate in outdoor recreation. But there can be drawbacks, which mainly affect local communities and those who manage land used by the public. Damage now should not compromise the future, either in reducing the enjoyment of generations to come or in creating problems for landowners and managers.

Hence it is important for recreation planners to consider the effects of their actions on the wider environment, on transport, on energy and on the local traditions and economy...


Environmental quality

The quality of the natural heritage as a whole should be maintained and improved. Recreation is becoming a major user of land. As outdoor recreation continues to develop, its effects on the natural heritage will become more widespread. There is a need for greater commitment to resolve problems through management, through environmental education, and by strategic planning of the means of access in terms of roads, parking facilities and footpaths.

Precautionary principle

In situations of great complexity or uncertainty we should act in a precautionary manner. Access measures are sometimes concentrated on places that are ecologically or visually sensitive...


Wise use

Non-renewable resources should be used wisely and sparingly, at a rate that does not restrict the options of future generations. A major call on non-renewable resources (particularly hydrocarbons) by outdoor recreation activities is the use of the motor car. Use of the car is central to the freedom and flexibility with which people enjoy open-air recreation. But we should aim to be less dependent on the car, especially for the more frequent short and medium-length journeys. The provision of better local access, especially where this can be reached on foot or by public transport, will benefit both the environment and the natural heritage, and should therefore be a key objective.

Carrying capacity

Renewable resources should be used within the limits of their capacity for regeneration...


Sustainable recreation

As far as possible, any recreation provision should be planned and designed with sustainability in mind. At its simplest, sustainability means that the present needs of the people and their environment should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

An example of how sustainability could be included in recreation planning is recent work by Scottish Natural Heritage, the government body with a responsibility for the landscape, nature conservation and outdoor recreation in Scotland. The following section is reproduced with their permission.

The approach is founded upon five main principles. These principles are based on common sense, and are designed to promote a sense of responsibility and understanding in how we all use the natural heritage...