Katrin Bohn and Andre Viljoen


In most European cities, movements towards the revitalisation of city centres have pushed the importance of open urban space to the front of public awareness. The resulting open urban spaces satisfy an immense variety of desires and programmes. Their themes are as different as their clients, occu­pants or locations, culminating in a multitude of approaches and solutions. Cities and towns are now full of fantastic new and old urban squares, urban parks, urban riverfronts, urban stages, urban forests and urban beaches. There are no urban fields yet.

CPULs will embed fields, thereby enriching urban tis­sue and lifestyle and contributing actively to solving environmental problems. Whether differing from or resembling, these productive landscapes will exist alongside other open urban space designs (see Open Urban Space Atlas, Figures 14.1-14.11). CPULs as urban design strategy could act as moderator between local user desires and strategic urban planning, between social and economic viabil­ity, sustainable ideas and urban productivity, between short-term advantage and long-term benefit.

CPULs could formally be very similar to urban parks in that both are mainly natural and designed to certain spatial or functional criteria. They will also be similar to urban forests, which again are natural, though of physically denser or higher vegetation. Urban parks and forests will be agriculturally less productive, but can therefore allow a freer use of space as there will be no movement restrictions which need to be designed in CPULs to protect crops. In that respect, CPULs could be similar to urban gardens as both will follow particular planting sequences and patterns. CPULs will mostly be larger than urban gardens and not as contained by user-specific or ornamental design.

Urban squares will be most dissimilar to CPULs. Compared to their free use as social and event spaces, CPULs will need to guide people and events to allow for undisturbed working and growing on the fields.

Urban river fronts (urban beaches) are seen as open urban spaces along a natural boundary. Being also about movement, they are however, in layout and function more similar to urban parks or squares than to CPULs. Urban beaches, as well as urban squares or parks, can turn into urban stages, flexible-use open spaces reflecting new attitudes to leisure. As those might be of any layout, they could become temporarily similar to CPULs.

Urban routes facilitate movement in the city and can also be of any form, layout, size and often of ingenious construction. They will resemble CPULs in their emphasis on movement.