THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

For comparison with other types of open urban space, we drew on three criteria which embrace, in our eyes, the most important qualities of a CPUL:

Spaciousness – as its inheritance, Occupation – as its present, and Ecology – as its gift to the future.

Spaciousness

Spaciousness describes the space itself, its extent, its width and breath. It means more than size, but size is its basic element, its starting point. There is no qualitative judgement connected to size: small open space is not bad open space, neither is big open space. Size is considered as influencing the space’s designation and its ability to accommodate certain programmes and occupants. Size is very manipu – lable by design, involving topography, view axis, walk axis, change in vegetation, building, etc. Sense of openness, though connected to size, reflects this

manipulation by providing a more sensual, qualitative measure for the spatial success of open urban space. It relates to the occupation and function of the space as well as to its position in the urban grid and its connectivity. Integration into inter-connecting urban routes enhances the significance of individual open space within any urban network. To be able to walk continuously onwards from an open urban space extends the space beyond itself and into a very fine and slow layer of inner-city movement. The potential for such movement encourages occupation and occupants as well as shaping the form and lay­out of open urban space. It also introduces change and renewal to the space, therewith offering a partic­ular persistent visual stimulation. Stimuli can be drawn from a variety of sources, such as occupancy (events, activities, movement, etc.), but they are mostly strongly linked to the natural environment: to vegetation undergoing seasonal change, growth, changing planting pattern, to water, wind, sun, rain, etc. Visual stimulation refers back to spaciousness, as a visually stimulating space is more likely to be judged as appropriately sized.

Occupation

Occupation is one of the prime concerns when planning contemporary open urban space. ‘Occupation’ thereby is often rather tightly measur­ing the success of new designs by quantifiable crite­ria such as the number of people flocking in during event time or sunshine (i. e. communal parks, fun parks, theme parks including traditional theme parks, such as zoos), or by the financial turnover of on-site facilities (i. e. leisure centres, shops, eater­ies, eating for leisure, leisure to reinstate health, beauty or body shape).

A more holistic view of current occupation of open space could include qualitative and longer-lasting criteria, such as education, health, potential for communication/integration or personal enrichment,

i. e. the satisfaction about own individual action and its importance for a broader urban community. Open urban spaces focusing that way will develop strong local interactions enabling the space to attract and retain local people.

Depending on its programme and tolerance to change, an open space providing for local interac­tions will very likely accommodate a large variety of occupants. If asked, occupants appear less interested in a space’s size or location and more in its potential to let them integrate and participate (see Chapter 15). We judge attracting large vari­eties of occupants to be as important as attracting large numbers of them. The latter suggests specific sizes/layouts of open urban space as well as spe­cific programmes to enable the entertainment of many occupants. It is useful to look at the variety of occupation on offer, not only to measure the suc­cess of open urban space to continuously attract people, but also to establish how the logistics of large user numbers are managed and whether any income can be generated from that.

Apart from income generation through on-site faci­lities, the economic return from ground-use is con­sidered a major factor in judging the long-lasting success of open urban space. As its ground is the very starting point of any open urban space and as this ground is rare, it becomes important to mea­sure how it is treated.

Ecology

In our context, ‘ecology’ gives weight to open urban space by connecting present design and pro­gramme to a widely desired and sustainable future. It also proposes a strategy to manage that process.

Ecology in open urban space is great where peo­ples’ exposure to urban nature is great. Commonly,

European open urban spaces selected for comparison to CPULs

 

Botanical Gardens Barcelona

country Spain

Carlos Ferrater architects/planners 1989-1999 construction size 15 ha location city edge type urban park history converted open hill side

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

country Germany

Peter Latz & Partners architects/planners

1991-1999 construction

size 210 ha

location edge of city

type urban landscape

history converted industrial site

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

country Great Britain

Tibbalds TM2 & CZWG architects/planners 1995-2000 construction size 36 ha location inner-urban type urban park/urban route history converted brown & greenfield sites

illette Paris

country France

Bernard Tschumi architects/planners 1991 construction size 55 ha location inner-urban type urban park/urban stage history converted industrial site

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS
THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS
THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

Zoo London

image47

 

country Great Britain

Decimus Burton architects/planners

1828 construction

size 10 ha

location inner-urban

type urban park

history converted urban park

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

CPUL

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CPULs do not yet exist.

In size, they will be as diverse as any other open urban space designs, ranging from 1 to more than 100 hectares. They will be located on inner-urban sites and on city edges, connecting both to continuous landscapes. They will happen on all sorts of open urban space, preferably on brownfield sites to regenerate urban quality In type, they will be new, they will be productive.

 

image37image38image39image40image41image42image43image44image45image46

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

legend

urban square

urban garden ■

urban park

 

scales

 

□ 100m x 100m = 1ha

 

10ha x10ha = 100ha

 

image48

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

size

Most qualities of open urban space which occupants value are not quantifiable. Size is, but in an ambiguous way: to look at size in quantifiable terms is at the same time necessary and completely superfluous. The diagrams depict absolute size, which is crucial, f. e., for comparison of the site’s dominance in the urban grid, esp. when looking at open space that superficially seems to be similar (ie CPUL-urban agriculture, allotment site) or seems to have potential site yields (see financial return from ground – use) (ie CPUL-urban agriculture, Zoo). The difference between the two possibly most popular open urban leisure spaces in Europe – the urban square and the urban park – is not only vegetation or ground cover but size. Dissimilar typologies lead here to diverse user expectations of size: squares are imagined and accepted as much smaller then parks (ie Schouwburgplein, Mauerpark).

Through design, the sensed size of open urban space can become very different from its physical size: topography and proportion can visually enlarge open space, high and/or dense boundaries reduce it (ie Mile End Park, Plaza del Desierto, Schouwburgplein). The size of the surrounding city also manipulates the open urban space size, in that big cities absorb their open spaces whereas small cities expose them (ie Mauerpark, Caen).

local interactions

Memory is what keeps space alive. Space that creates memories is space of encounters. Whilst these do not necessarily need to be encounters between people, they mostly are. Spaces allowing encounters will both attract occupants and keep them coming back.

Every designed open urban space is designated to a certain theme. If the designation incurs separation from parts of the public, the space will allow interactions only between very specific user groups (ie Zoo, allotment site). Even if not separated, open space can be confined to specific user groups only, if located in particular areas or designed in particular ways (ie Old Plant Park). Whilst these spaces often work well in themselves, they do not reflect the idea of open urban space.

As soon as open urban space allows a certain indetermination, it will be used by varieties of people, engaging in varieties of interactions. When usable as meeting place, the space becomes a source of even more diverse actions, as people are setting out from it and into it. Most of these interactions are independent of the space’s size, layout or finish (ie Schouwburgplein, Mauerpark, Plaza del Desierto). New quality will be reached when interactions between working, trading and shopping people will happen alongside the leisure and service activities (ie CPUL, Mile End Park).

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS image51
Подпись: size
Подпись: Zoo London
Подпись: Mauerpark Berlin
Подпись: Plaza D Baracaldo

local interactions

Zoo London

one-off encounters between tourist visitors and/or local visitors and/or workers/traders allotment site

repeated encounters between members of 2 specific user group (allotment holders, passers-by/through) Old Plant Park Caen repeated encounters between members of several specific user groups (residents, visitors, passers-by) Plaza del Desierto Baracaldo repeated and one-off encounters between members of various user groups (residents, tourist/local visitors, passers-by/through). meeting place Schouwburgplein Rotterdam repeated and one-off encounters between members of various user groups (residents, tourist/local visitors, passers-by, traders). meeting place

Mauerpark Berlin

repeated and one-off encounters between members of various user groups. meeting place CPUL

repeated encounters between members of various user groups (residents, tourist/local visitors, passers – by) and/or workers/traders. meeting place Mile End Park London

repeated and one-off encounters between members of various user groups (residents, tourist/local visitors, passers-by) and/or traders. meeting place

size

Schouwburgplein Rotterdam

1.5 ha. regular-size, flat

urban square in medium-city context

allotment site

1.5 ha. regular-size, flat or undulating urban garden in any city context Plaza del Desierto Baracaldo

2 ha. regular-size, stepped

urban garden/urban square in small-city context

Zoo London

10 ha. large-size, flat

urban park in big-city context

CPUL

10 ha. large-size, flat or undulating

urban park in big-city context. can also be much smaller, i. e. 1.5 ha, Schouwburgplein-size

Mauerpark Berlin

11 ha. large-size, undulating urban park in big-city context

Mile End Park London

36 ha. very large-size, flat

urban park/urban route in big-city context

Old Plant Park Caen

150 ha. enormous-size, flat

urban park/garden holding incremental out-of-town

housing

image52Подпись: scalessolid edge ie building

see-through edge ie fence, vegetation, main traffic, water

unobstructed / semi-obstructed openness

100m x 100m = 1ha □ 100m x 100m = 1ha 100m x 100m = 1ha

sense of openness variety of occupation

Sense of openness is desirable. It is one of the qualities people look for when travelling to the sea, climbing mountains or towers, cherishing a garden or balcony. Sense of openness means both, physical openness to the wandering/moving through space and sensed openness to people’s wandering eyes (view) and ears (sound). The physical openness of an urban space is determined by its physical boundaries: buildings, fencing, roads, canals, dense vegetation etc. How users sense openness depends on their personal experiences as well as on the design of the space: boundaries, ground, topography, internal objects, axes… manipulating the space’s absolute size to appear bigger or smaller than it physically is. Buildings, f. e., often appear as the most restricting boundaries, both to eye and movement (ie Place Bellecour, community garden, Schouwburgplein, Zoo). The sheer size or topography of open urban space can outweigh a boundary, ie an adjacent motorway, which for a small open urban space would pose a major border to both, movement and senses (ie Plaza del Desierto, Emscher Park). Sensed openness also includes cultural references: two identical spaces, one enclosed by metal fencing, the other by dense fruit bushes will attract different occupants and/or usage (ie Botanical Gardens, Place Bellecour, CPUL).

Diversity of occupation, of activities is a measure for the success of open urban space in that it will create and maintain local interest, identity and satisfaction.

Occupation of open urban space can be every­thing from fast and short, ie moving through (ie Place Bellecour), to slow and extended, or mental, ie occupying territory by sitting there and/or listening to / looking at it (ie Emscher Park, Botanical Gardens). Spaces which attract a wide range of users mostly register a large variety of occupation (ie Emscher Park). Occupation through a typical user / user group can happen once (ie Zoo) or repeatedly (ie community garden). Indetermined design and/or the availability of open-minded space will encourage users to engage in unforeseen individual activities (ie Schouwburgplein, Plaza del Desierto).

Contemporary open urban space invites mainly leisure (ie Plaza del Desierto, community garden), using-service (ie Schouwburgplein) or educative activities (ie Botanical Gardens). All of those activities can also be related to particular historic urban spaces (ie Zoo, Place Bellecour). Open urban space achieves a non-precedented occupational quality when including working activity, whereby "working" means working with the actual space, ie earning a living by using elements inherent to the space: ground, vegetation, buildings (ie CPUL-urban agriculture, Emscher Park).

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Emscher Park Dujsburg

 

CPUL

 

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Подпись: variety of occupation

SB-plein Rotterdam

 

Zoo London

image53

 

comparabl

 

ag icult s

 

>pue| ueqir

 

Botanical Gardens Barcelona

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

image54

Botanical Gardens Barcelona

walk, talk, see, sit, observe, listen, learn Zoo London

walk, talk, see, sit, observe, listen, learn see shows/exhibitions, eat, play Plaza del Desierto Baracaldo walk, talk, see, sit, eat, play short cut, meet, party Place Bellecour Lyon walk, short cut, talk, see, sit, meet, eat, play, party

cycle

community garden

walk, talk, see, sit, meet, eat, play, party engage, work Schouwburgplein Rotterdam

walk, cycle, short cut, talk, see, sit, learn see shows/exhibitions, meet, eat, play, party

CPUL

walk, cycle, short cut, talk, see, sit, observe, learn meet, eat, play, party, engage, work produce, earn

Emscher Park Duisburg

walk, cycle, short cut, talk, see, sit, observe, listen learn, see shows/exhibitions, meet, eat, play, party

engage, work

listed are groups of activities, i. e. there are various activities that can be done sitting

Zoo London

reducing sense of openness: internal buildings, internal fencing, fenced border, external roads, external dense trees increasing sense of openness: large size

community garden

reducing: fenced border, external buildings and roads

increasing: open access

Schouwburgplein Rotterdam

reducing: external buildings and roads, road noise increasing: no fencing/border, flatness, sky views

Plaza del Desierto Baracaldo

reducing: external buildings, roads and train increasing: topography, one side open to views

CPUL

reducing: external buildings and traffic

increasing: topography, two sides open to views and

moves

Place Bellecour Lyon

reducing: external buildings and roads increasing: sky view, tree border, size

Botanical Gardens Barcelona

reducing: fenced border

increasing: views, topography, tree borders, size

Emscher Park Duisburg

reducing: motorway, motorway noise increasing: long views, topography, sheer size

main entrance/exit

image55major/minor feeding roads

main movement of which…

… new

routes/connections improving inner-city movement

scales n100m x 100m = 1ha

□ 100m x 100m = 1ha

I 100m x 100m = 1ha

inner-city movement

The quality of Europe’s open urban spaces is measured at the scale of pedestrians. Spaces that are easily accessible, easy to cross and/or inviting to sit, rest, wander are bursting with visitors, shoppers, traders and local residents (see variety of occupants/ occupation). Spaces not providing those characteristics

don’t burst.

Quality inner-city movement is strongly linked to pedestrians’/cyclists’ access to individual pieces of land. As closer to the city centre an open urban space is, as more significant is its contribution to inner-city movement (ie Place Bellecour, Old Plant

Park).

A variety of access/exit points increases the potential for movement which still only happens if the open urban space allows safe, uninterrupted crossing (ie Ronda del Mig, Mile End Park). Due to location or occupation constraints (ie Thames Barrier Park, Old Plant Park), not all spaces have or require a large number of access points. Open urban spaces of particular function and therefore removed from urban routes (ie Cemetry, allotment site), can even not at all contribute to inner-city movement. Open urban space achieves a new unprecedented quality, when easily accessible pieces of land are inter-linked, thereby providing a continuous route through the city into the countryside (ie CPUL).

economic return from ground-use

People’s ability to generate income to live off is necessary and deeply satisfying. Using the ground, the earth itself, is one of the most archaic ways of generating that income, mainly in form of food production. It also allows the widely desired working in/with natural conditions.

Not using the ground itself can be related to the space’s designation and its consequent layout and finish (ie Place Bellecour, Ronda del Mig).

Drawing financial return from using the ground in a ritual way, happens on relatively large pieces of ground, but is an exception in Europe (ie Cemetry). Open urban space that has designed areas for agricultural production has gained extra occupational and spatial quality. Mostly, these open spaces contain allotment areas and generate that small income and huge satisfaction integral to allotment growing (ie Old Plant Park, Mile End Park, allotment site).

Such partial usage of ground for actual production is imaginable in most garden – or parklike open spaces of some size without diminishing their spatial/visual character (ie Thames Barrier Park).

A new, non-existing, landscape arises when the ground is worked to field-scale and commercialism. Then, significant economic return exists alongside the sustainable development and better protection of open urban space (ie CPUL-urban agriculture).

Подпись: economic return from ground-use image56

economic return from ground-use

Place Bellecour Lyon

indirect financial return from ground-use through events, visitors, traders, maintenance Ronda del Mig Barcelona indirect financial return from ground-use through visitors, traders, maintenance Thames Barrier Park London indirect financial return from ground-use through visitors, maintenance Cemetry Kortrijk fees from renting-out the ground/earth for ritual use

employer Mile End Park London

financial return from selling/trading grown produce (ecology park). employer

Old Plant Park Caen

financial return from selling/trading grown produce financial benefit from composting, self-usage of grown produce

allotment site

financial return from selling/trading grown produce financial benefit from composting, retaining seeds self-usage of grown produce, lifestyle CPUL

financial return from selling/trading grown produce financial benefit from composting, retaining seeds self-usage of grown produce, lifestyle and short – distance economy. local employer

inner-city movement

Cemetry Kortrijk

single entrance/exit, no connections

allotment site

few entrances/exits, non-permanent site access

Thames Barrier Park London

few entrances/exits, new connections between existing

footpaths (S) and road (N), improved site

access

Old Plant Park Caen

some entrances/exits, new connections between existing roads/paths, new residential routes, improved site access

CPUL

some entrances/exits, new connections between existing roads/paths and between different inner-city areas, improved site access

Place Bellecour Lyon

lots of entrances/exits, new connections between existing roads/routes and between different inner-city areas

Mile End Park London

lots of entrances/exits, new connections between existing and new roads/routes and between different inner-city areas, new pedestrian road bridge

Ronda del Mig Barcelona

lots of entrances/exits, new connections between existing routes and between different inner-city areas, new ways of moving for pedestrians and traffic

V/,

image57"Подпись: ingПодпись: scalesany planting of spatial importance

significant individual trees is

water

100m x 100m = 1ha 100m x 100m = 1ha

100m x 100m = 1ha

urban nature

To be in "nature" is desirable, and there is agree­ment that "nature" means living wilderness or countryside or forests etc., brief: non-urbanity. Urban nature is an attempt to measure the presence of such "natural" features in the urban environment. It describes an open space’s potential for sensual experience involving, f. e., vision, touch, smell, taste, sound to create pleasure, friction or comfort. Abundance of vegetation, both for visual and tactile experience, embodies most directly the presence of urban nature (ie Botanical Gardens). Water is also a strong visual and acoustic natural element of open urban space (ie Parque de la Villette) as are wide flat surfaces, both natural and sealed (ie Place Bellecour, Emscher Park). Agricultural vegetation will give open spaces an extra dimension by adding a greater variety of plants and forms of planting (ie CPUL-urban agriculture). Ecological planting exposes the occupants best to ecological cycles, the basis of all "nature" (ie Emscher Park).

Open spaces that offer habitat to small wild animals are mostly either of larger size or committed to the protection of wildlife, which both encourages the flourish of nature (ie community garden). Lack of any of the above or dominance of built structures diminishes the feeling of exposure to nature (ie Ronda del Mig, Five Squares).

persistent visual stimulation

Vision is the sense most used and therefore most addressed in contemporary European life.

Visual stimulation is crucial to maintain peoples interest, to challenge visitors. If a space does not satisfy people’s vision, it will only be revisited for necessity rather than choice. To guarantee visual stimulation, movement, change are needed. Static is not stimulating, but even very little change is. As all spaces discussed here are open urban space, lighting and weather will continuously influence their optics.

The movement of people, cars, the flow of urban life is for many as stimulating as vegetation, esp. trees and flowers, changing over the seasons for others, though both are very different (ie Ronda del Mig, Five Squares, community garden).

Staging various events in open urban space does not only persistently attracts different people, but reinvents the space’s appearance again and again (ie Place Bellecour, Parque de la Villette).

A combination of both, the inserted event and the every-day activity might be the most successful: seasons, traffic, leisure events etc. cater for a large variety of users and avoid mono-stimulation (ie CPUL, Emscher Park).

Exhibitions held within open spaces add another layer of stimulation by making the space a second time visible (ie Botanical Gardens, Parque de la Villette).

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

Parque de la Villette Paris

 

Подпись: persistent visual stimulation

Ronda Mig Barcelona

 

Botanical

 

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

Five Squares Gibellina

•••

 

image58image60image61image62image63

THE OPEN URBAN SPACE ATLAS

Подпись: lessmore

urban nature

persistent visual stimulation

Five Squares Gibellina

tree seasons. passing pedestrians and cyclists visitors. local events Place Bellecour Lyon tree seasons. passing pedestrians and cyclists visitors. local events community garden tree seasons. seasonal and changing vegetation passing pedestrians. visitors. workers. local events

Botanical Gardens Barcelona

tree seasons. seasonal and changing vegetation visitors. workers. local events. exhibitions Ronda del Mig Barcelona

tree seasons. seasonal vegetation. passing pedestrians, cyclists and traffic. visitors. workers Parque de la Villette Paris tree seasons. seasonal vegetation. visitors. local and regional events. exhibitions

CPUL (urban agriculture)

tree seasons. seasonal and changing vegetation passing pedestrians and cyclists. visitors. workers

Emscher Park Duisburg

tree seasons. seasonal vegetation. passing pedestrians, cyclists and traffic. visitors. local and regional events

+ continuous change in lighting (day, night, sun…) + continuous change in weather (wind, rain, air…)

urban nature

Five Squares Gibellina

young individual trees

Ronda del Mig Barcelona

young individual trees. shrub and flower containers

Place Bellecour Lyon

mature individual trees. gravel. water

Parque de la Villette Paris

young individual trees. extensive lawn. flower

containers. water

community garden

young (and/or mature) individual (fruit) trees. shrubs flower beds. lawn. (water). small wild animals Botanical Gardens Barcelona

young individual trees. all varieties of shrubs, flowers, herbs, mosses etc. suitable to the existing climate. water

CPUL (urban agriculture)

young individual fruit trees and bushes. vegetable, herb, fruit, flower, grain beds or fields. lawn surfaces (water). gravel

Emscher Park Duisburg

young and mature individual trees. ecological planting. allotments. lawn surfaces. water. non-cultivated plants. gravel. small wild animals

+ sun, wind, rain, hot air, warm air, cold air…

+ insects

for all open urban spaces

Figure 14.9

legend

image64Подпись: scalesC

low/medium/high biodiversity and soil quality

/WWWVW

sources of major/ minor noise pollution

ШШ

Подпись: 100m x 100m = 1ha 100m x 100m = 1ha 100m x 100m = 1ha

sources of calm

environmental delight

The desire for satisfying space, space to be content in, leads most people to open space of often very similar qualities. These qualities are grouped here as environmental delight. Apart from the existence of vegetation, water, weather and/or animals (see urban nature), people, in an environmental sense, seem to search calm, clean-aired, biodiverse and rich open

spaces.

Open urban spaces provide both, acoustic and visual calm by distance from noise/traffic sources, mainly through the urban positioning of the space (ie Five Squares, Mauerpark) or through its sheer size (ie Parque de la Villette). Vegetation, water surfaces and openness/horizon enhance visual calm (see sense of openness), both for people using a space tempora­rily (ie Thames Barrier Park, Zoo) and those living/ working around it (ie allotment site). The co-relation between rich, healthy soil and bio­diversity is expressed by combining them in one icon. Biodiverse, rich-soil open urban spaces are those holding abundant vegetation achieved either through spatially diverse planting (ie allotment site) or time-wise consecutive planting (ie CPUL-urban agriculture). Provided there is distance from polluting sources, clean air is most likely found in open urban spaces encouraging wind (see size) and vegetation (ie Cemetry, CPUL, Mauerpark).

variety of occupants

Inviting a variety of occupants is a quality of open urban space seeked by city councils as well as by users themselves for its potential to overcome socie­tal boundaries, such as age, race, social status, gender, nationality, religion, culture etc.

Variety of occupants does not primarily register the numbers of users (though larger numbers often comprise more diverse users), but maps the differences between user groups. These are largely dependent on designation and, after that, design of the open urban space. Independent from the space’s designation, members of any user group occupying a space with the same intention, will still belong to different backgrounds.

By offering single or multiple activities (see variety of occupation), the designation of a particular space en­courages or restricts the diversity of its user groups for obvious reasons (Parque de la Villette, Mauer­park, Cemetry).

Defining access to a particular designated space (see inner-city movement) by finance, therefore boundary, regulates the variety of occupants considerably (ie Zoo, allotment site, Parque de la Villette).

The subtle, open, transgressing design of a space’s non-financial boundary and its functional arrangement will determine its lasting attraction to a diverse usership (ie CPUL, Five Squares, Thames Barrier Park).

image65
variety of occupants

Cemetery Kortrijk

mourners, workers. visitors all ages, social & ethnic backgrounds. mainly locals

allotment site allotment holders, passers-by. visitors/ all social and ethnic backgrounds. mainly locals all ages, but mainly from 35 years on Zoo London private residents, workers. visitors all social & ethnic backgrounds. local to international all ages, but mainly children and parents/carers Thames Barrier Park London private & professional residents, passers-by. visitors all ages, social & ethnic backgrounds. mainly locals

CPUL

private & professional residents, passers-by workers. visitors. all social & ethnic backgrounds mainly locals.

all ages, but mainly adults Five Squares Gibellina private & professional residents, passers-by. visitors all ages, social & ethnic backgrounds. mainly locals

Mauerpark Berlin

private & professional residents, passers-by. visitors all ages, social & ethnic backgrounds. mainly locals Parque de la Villette Paris private & professional residents, passers-by workers. visitors. all social & ethnic backgrounds local to international. all ages, but mainly adults

environmental delight

Five Squares Gibellina

reducing the delight: lack of major vegetation increasing the delight: quietness Parque de la Villette Paris

reducing: noise/traffic connected to events, amount of building on site increasing: openness. water surface

Zoo London

reducing: major road traffic/noise, amount of building on site. increasing: strong presence of nature, both in vegetation and occupation (animals)

Thames Barrier Park London

reducing: road traffic/noise. increasing: quietness. seasonally changing vegetation. water surface

Mauerpark Berlin

increasing: quietness. openness. abundance of seasonally changing vegetation

Cemetery Kortrijk

increasing: quietness. openness. strong presence of nature, both in vegetation and occupation (death)

CPUL

reducing: possible road traffic. increasing: openness abundance of seasonally changing vegetation. rich soil. visible ecological cycles

allotment site

increasing: quietness. abundance of seasonally changing vegetation. rich soil. visible ecological cycles

‘nature’ refers to the abundant presence of mostly uncultivated vegetation, of rain, sun, water, animal life, etc. perceived to happen mainly outside cities – in rural areas or the countryside. Seeming a contra­diction, urban nature describes the presence of any of those characteristics in urban settings. Urban nature is used here to measure the potential of open urban space to satisfy, by design or designation, a human desire to be in ‘nature’.

Whilst most contemporary spaces are concerned with similar urban issues, their main differences lie in the varied use of land, of the ground they sit on, of the local climate, vegetation or water, resulting in very different interfaces with the ‘natural’. There is no qualitative judgement connected to those diffe­rences: open urban spaces withdraw for many rea­sons, mostly determined by their designation, from the ‘natural’.

Nevertheless, the presence of urban nature as a quality is part of environmental delight which attempts to measure open spaces’ success in environmental terms. It looks at qualities of vegeta­tion, ground, air or sound and includes most peo­ple’s desire for having sufficient access to the external, to being in the open (see Chapter 15). Quietness, both acoustic and visual, is an impor­tant measure of environmental delight, as the desire for quietness is one of the reasons for peo­ple to leave cities, whether on a holiday or weekend trip or to live outside them. Noise, its opposite, is becoming a more and more recognised environ­mental pollutant. Whilst there is different opinion about what noise is in detail, there is surprising consent about what it is in general. For open urban space, noise pollution is mostly traffic-, rather than industry-related, which might simply indicate strategies when positioning open space in the first place. Air quality (not mapped in the Open Urban Space Atlas) refers to fresh, clear, pollutant-free air registering little CO2 and other gas emissions. Generally, good quality air is likely to be found away from polluting sources such as roads or industry. Open urban spaces have the potential to offer this condition, being often especially positioned or shaped so as to allow distance from such sources. As wind and the presence of vegetation help clean­ing and/or dispersing polluted air, open urban spaces encouraging air movement and plant growth are also more likely to be clean. The quality of vegetation and soil is studied in the correlation of healthy soil (i. e. rich soil, free of pollutants and chemical fertiliser) and biodiversity. Assuming simi­lar richness, soil free of chemical additives houses a greater diversity of plants and insects making it the basis for any long-lasting natural life in the first place.