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A design framework for small parks in ultra-urban, metropolitan, suburban and small town settings


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Public parks contribute to neighbourhood quality of life, promote a more public daily life, serve as important focal points for neighbourhoods, and provide access to nearby nature as part of the built environment. Parks have a special role in the range of public space as a part of sustainable land use planning and development. Good design helps position them for relevant cultural and ecological roles. This research identified design principles that good, small urban parks share – including accessibility, specificity, authenticity, functionality, and adaptability – applicable in smaller cities, towns, and lower density areas. The framework was subsequently tested using interviews, remote and observational analysis in locations representing this variety of settings in the Southeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern United States.
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Journal of Urban Design
ISSN: 1357-4809 (Print) 1469-9664 (Online) Journal homepage:
A design framework for small parks in ultra-urban,
metropolitan, suburban and small town settings
Melissa Anne Currie
To cite this article: Melissa Anne Currie (2017) A design framework for small parks in ultra-
urban, metropolitan, suburban and small town settings, Journal of Urban Design, 22:1, 76-95,
DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2016.1234334
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Published online: 06 Oct 2016.
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VOL. 22, NO. 1, 7695
A design framework for small parks in ultra-urban,
metropolitan, suburban and small town settings
Melissa Anne Currie
Department of Geography and Planning, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
Public parks contribute to neighbourhood quality of life, promote
a more public daily life, serve as important focal points for neigh-
bourhoods, and provide access to nearby nature as part of the built
environment. Parks have a special role in the range of public space
as a part of sustainable land use planning and development. Good
design helps position them for relevant cultural and ecological roles.
This research identied design principles that good, small urban parks
share – including accessibility, specicity, authenticity, functionality,
and adaptability – applicable in smaller cities, towns, and lower den-
sity areas. The framework was subsequently tested using interviews,
remote and observational analysis in locations representing this va-
riety of settings in the Southeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern
United States.
A frequent quote of prominent scientist E. O. Wilson is, ‘Nature holds the key to our aesthetic,
intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction’. Spending time in nature is instinctive
and the subject of philosophical and naturalist writings of Henry David Thoreau, Aldo
Leopold and Frederick Law Olmsted, along with numerous scientic studies. Parents take
children to outdoor places to release energy and get exercise and workers commonly take
breaks in a nearby small park or plaza. However, populations worldwide continue to shift
from rural to urban areas (Baur and Tynon 2010; UN 2014), making access to nature more
dicult to obtain. Public spaces, including streets, parks or plazas, are a vital part of embrac-
ing nature in urban settings. These neighbourhood-scale insertions provide easy, nearby
access to nature for a greater number of people and may become the basis for how nature
is experienced by some city dwellers, highlighting their importance within the urban fabric.
This idea motivated the study of small parks to identify a common set of design principles
that good, small public parks share that is transferable beyond ultra-urban locations to
smaller cities, towns or lower density suburban areas.
There is an increasing focus on the value and benets of small parks in a wide range of
disciplines, including public health, urban design and planning (Madanipour 2004;
McCormack et al. 2010; Watson and Kessler 2013; Dewaelheyns et al. 2014). Forsyth,
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
CONTACT Melissa Anne Currie
Musacchio, and Fitzgerald (2005, 3) name small parks as one of the most underrated but
potentially valuable ecological resources in a metropolitan area because there are so many
of them in each given area’. Small parks make important contributions to neighbourhoods
across the ‘spectrum of social, environmental and economic benets’ (Swanwick, Dunnett,
and Woolley 2003, 103; also Dewaelheyns et al. 2014) both in their existence value (because
they are there) and use value (their function, activity). Parks and public spaces provide a
favourite destination for walking trips in suburban neighbourhoods (Tilt 2010), enhance
aesthetics of neighbourhoods (Walker 2004), and promote public life (Duany, Plater-Zyberk,
and Speck 2000). They provide settings where people can experience formal or informal
social and ecological interactions fundamental to building sustainable communities
(Chiesura 2004).
Parks and public spaces must be viewed in terms of their cultural and ecological relevancy
to the twenty-rst century. They can, and should, provide, ‘critical ecological, educational,
and artistic roles’ in contemporary life (Karasov 1996, 7). To provide this relevancy, good
design of space is needed. Therefore, the goal of this research was not to construct a list of
recommended park amenities (such as water features or benches), but to identify founda-
tional design principles independent of personal tastes, specic amenities or surrounding
densities. Parks in ultra-urban areas such as New York City, London or Philadelphia have been
widely studied, but what of the small cities and burgeoning suburbs morphing into edge
cities, or the small towns dotting the contemporary landscape? With these aspects in mind,
the following problem statements were developed:
1. What are the design principles that good, small urban parks share?
2. Are these principles applicable in smaller cities, towns, and lower density areas?
These questions require dening the terminology used and a research scope to establish
the study context. ‘Small parks’ are dened as three acres (1.2 hectares) or less in size, a
common categorical size in US municipal systems and the minimum size recommended for
a neighbourhood park. The size limitation narrows the study to those most probably living,
working or recreating nearby and includes the mini- or pocket park that may be as small as
one-tenth acre. This park size also corresponds to the ‘Local Park’ (up to 1.2 hectares) desig-
nation used in the UK (Swanwick, Dunnett, and Woolley 2003). As Carmona, De Magalhães,
and Edwards (2002) point out, ‘good’ urban design means dierent things to the various
stakeholders associated with a particular space whether landowners, developers, author-
ities, users, designers, etc. In this research the term ‘good’ is from the designer’s perspective:
as adding social value to ‘local populations, enhancing social well being and civic pride’ (157);
and from the occupier’s/users perspectives: as enhancing social and environmental value.
Parks included in the study are located in the Eastern US and were chosen to specically
examine how small parks function not just in mega-cities, but also in smaller cities, small
towns, and newer metropolitan areas that do not have a long urban tradition or history. The
research draws from a literature review of public space, parks and urban design, and employs
a mix of qualitative methods, including on-site observation, interviews, website analysis and
research of park histories. The focus is also on public parks, which necessitates an under-
standing of what this means. Readers are referred to Mehta (2014) and Langstraat and Van
Melik (2013) for excellent reviews of the literature regarding public space. The following
discussion highlights various aspects of the discourse relevant to this research.
Public space and the role of public parks
Physical space is primarily organized into two realms: private and public, with public space
dened as ‘places outside the boundaries of individual or small-group control, mediating
between private spaces and used for a variety of often overlapping functional and symbolic
purposes’ (Madanipour 1999, 881). ‘Public space’ connotes a variety of typologies, including
markets, town greens, plazas, esplanades or interstitial spaces such as medians or trac
circles. There are numerous denitions of the terms open space, green space, park, etc. in
the literature regarding public space. This carries over to the municipal sector where local
authorities also employ a range of planning designations when describing public space.
Swanwick, Dunnett, and Woolley (2003) provide a useful typology of ‘urban green space’,
which they generally dene as publicly owned and managed land that provides some form
of recreation. Their park typologies are based on a hierarchy of importance in terms of a
park’s size, catchment area and the resources and facilities provided, and are: Principal/City/
Metropolitan Parks (8.0 hectares or greater); District Parks (up to 8.0 hectares and including
sports elds); Neighbourhood Park (up to 4 hectares including landscape and recreational
facilities); and Local Park (up to 1.2 hectares including play and green areas).
It is important to re-orient public space ‘towards contemporary values’, including envi-
ronmental sustainability, environmental justice, spatial justice and democratic processes in
producing space (Kahn and Walsh 2014). At their core, these values are about equity in the
built environment. To aect positive change and a return to functional urbanism, New
Urbanism theory calls for, ‘many activities of daily living [to] occur within walking distance,
[including] a range of parks, from tot-lots and village greens to ball elds and community
gardens … distributed within neighborhoods’ (Duany et al., 264). In America’s post-World
War II suburbs, however, little thought was given to the need to set aside land for parks and
public spaces. Rather, the typical single-family detached home in newly created, sprawling
developments provided a ‘park-like setting’ in the form of front and back yards. This raises
the question do public parks still matter? (Rome 1998; Baur and Tynon 2010). The study
here argues in the armative, as private yards in subdivisions do not oer the benets of
social interactions that occur in public space. Nor are they designed to provide ecological
functions or sustainable landscapes necessary in developed areas. This phenomenon is not
limited to the US, for example, Parés-Franzi, Saurí-Pujol, and Domene (2006) found a similar
trend of low-density urban sprawl associated with decreased quantities of parks in metro-
politan areas in Spain.
Landscape architect and cultural geographer Deborah Karasov (1996) observed that as
an embedded element of our communities, parks are victim to many of the same unimag-
inative and monotonous development patterns introduced with the mass production of the
Urban children are not the only ones who encounter prosaic and indistinguishable parks …
Suburban children … experience nearly identical landscapes, regardless of the region or eco-
logical zone in which they live … Rather than adding to this monotony, parks could and a few
already do artistically express a variety of spatial and visual experiences. (8–9)
By heeding Karsov’s advice, parks can help preserve neighbourhoods by giving them a
unique identity and creating connections through place attachment that may encourage
residents to stay as their income levels rise (Brown, Perkins, and Brown 2003; Scannell and
Giord 2010). The collective result of keeping neighbourhoods together helps uphold them
as distinct places. In more urban areas, public parks bring ‘a sense of order to living’ by helping
maintain the needed balance of open space to built space within a city (Udall 1988). They
provide elements on a smaller, more human scale to contrast with the scale and building
mass of dense urban cores. In suburban or urban areas, small parks support important human
interactions in three dimensions with cultural or political systems, ecological systems and
other people.
Human interactions with cultural/political systems
The physical denition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use is a top priority
for designers (Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck 2000). Such places must be given distinctive
form and located on sites of importance so as to ‘reinforce community identity and the
culture of democracy’ (265). Public spaces, and especially parks, provide gathering space for
public expression and/or protest. In fact, the US Constitution protects them as such, as ruled
in 1939 by Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization:
… streets and parks … have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time
out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citi-
zens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient
times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. (Miller 2007, 8)
Parks have a special role in the range of public space through their ability to be catalysts for
wider community and economic development that other types of public space do not. This
is attributed to their particular ability to oer, ‘free, open, non-discriminatory access all day,
every day; and [their role as] visible representations of neighbourhood quality’ (Swanwick,
Dunnett, and Woolley 2003, 104). Access (e.g., open admission, inclusiveness) is a key
underpinning of a public park and a main emphasis in dening public space (Madanipour
1999). Parks must be open to the general public with no restrictions on race, gender,
economic status, etc. Open access communicates that a space is public, and ‘the more open
and unconditional the access, the more public it becomes’ (Madanipour 2004, 282).There is
growing concern over the increasing privatization of the public realm seen in the rise of
‘private-public’ space (Langstraat and Van Melik 2013). Minton (2006) argues that this results
in ‘over-controlled, sterile places’ lacking connection to a local context, ‘with the result that
they all tend to look the same’ (3). Private-public space is increasingly common in the
‘neoliberal economic restructuring’ of urban development (Madanipour 2004, 268), with
private ownership and management (including policing) of the public realm part-and-parcel
of urban regeneration schemes. However, it is the free-ness of truly public space that allows
it to function as democratic ground, a little parliament where people meet in a shared space
and form the bonds of community. In addition to the political nature of public space, it is
necessary for public life and natural systems to coexist as relationships between human and
ecological systems, and human social patterns, are interrelated (Warner 1993).
Human interactions with ecological systems
Public spaces play an important role at the intersection of the non-human and human envi-
ronments by building sustainable relationships with nature, and thus help move the metrop-
olis toward a more sociable place (Chiesura 2004). Parks are uniquely situated to provide
needed connections to nature for residents of crowded urban neighbourhoods (Chiesura
2004; Walker 2004; Baur and Tynon 2010). Interaction with nature has been especially chal-
lenging for residents of low-income urban communities who have lower rates of participation
in nature-based recreation due to the inaccessible locations of many parks and open spaces
(Searle and Jackson 1985; Baur and Tynon 2010). Access to neighbourhood public spaces
including parks ‘profoundly aects the poor, the immobile, and children’ (Talen 2003, 199).
Low-income and minority populations typically have fewer transportation options (as do
other vulnerable populations, including youth and the elderly), making easily accessed and
nearby public spaces extremely important (Loukaitou-Sideris and Sideris 2010).
Youth in low-income neighbourhoods also rely more heavily on local public spaces and
use them more frequently than youth living in more auent areas (Gotham and Brumley
2002; Hart 2002; Laughlin and Johnson 2011). Studies in Los Angeles show inner city neigh-
bourhoods have a greater need, but much lower acreage of neighbourhood parks and sub-
stantially poorer levels of maintenance and cleanliness compared to more auent
neighbourhoods (Loukaitou-Sideris 2006). Princetl et al. (2003) similarly found that Los
Angeles neighbourhoods where whites made up 75% or more of the residents contained
31.8 acres of park per 1000 people, African-American neighbourhoods had 1.7 acres of park
space for every 1000 people, and Latino neighbourhoods fared even worse with just 0.6
acres. Talen’s (2010) study in Phoenix and Chicago showed parks were not more prevalent
in areas with higher levels of racial/ethnic diversity, and especially in Phoenix parks tended
to be surrounded by low-density housing, making accessibility more dicult. These studies
highlight issues of environmental and social justice and the need to locate parks near people,
particularly in low-income neighbourhoods.
Human interactions with other people
Nearby parks provide easy access to nature and promote a more public daily life. Small parks
in particular provide for a ‘positive sense of intimacy’ (Forsyth, Musacchio, and Fitzgerald
2005, 14) that stimulates human interaction. Oglethorpe’s 1770 plan for Savannah, Georgia,
illustrates a town planning model built on these ideals using public space in the form of
town squares as organizers for blocks. Social networks in early colonial life were critical in
establishing a productive and successful settlement and the historic squares emphasize the
importance of designing central spaces to facilitate public gathering. The desire for a public
life also motivated the establishment of New York City’s rst public park in 1733, Bowling
Green a small space of less than one-half acre that is still widely used. Three residents
originally leased the park as an enclosed space for the purpose of ‘recreation and delight of
the inhabitants of this City’ (in Seymour 1969). New York City’s rapid growth left little land
available to the public until plans were made in 1858 to create Central Park. This began a
trend of building large parks in other American cities, often located outside the population
centre. Such locations are not as commonly frequented, but both small and large parks are
needed as each fulls dierent needs in peoples’ lives (Baur and Tynon 2010).
In 1963 the inuential landscape architecture rm Zion and Breen Associates organized
‘New Parks for New York’, an important exhibit to raise awareness for the necessity for small
‘pocket parks’ located throughout the City. Zion and Breen’s thesis helped transition the role
of the urban park from one of ornament (nice to have) to one of necessity (vital to urban
[Parks] should not be looked upon as mere amenities. They have become necessities, and neces-
sities must, by denition, be close at hand, easily come by. Their presence should be felt every-
where throughout the area on the way to work, on the way home, as well as during the lunch
hour. If such a system of parks is to succeed, there must be proximity, as well as profusion one
such park for each square block. (Seymour 1969, 3)
Zion (1969) posited that parks ‘must be where the people are’ in order to function eectively,
their inuence felt everywhere in everyday life radical thinking at the time. It ultimately
led to the commission of Paley Park, one of America’s most successful, well-known urban
parks and arguably the gold standard by which small pocket parks are measured. The idea
of small, vest-pocket parks was embraced, spreading rst to large cities such as Philadelphia
and Chicago, then to other cities nationwide.
Having established the relevancy of small parks to contemporary society, the focus turns
to their proper disposition. Landscape architects and urban designers have the capacity to
translate multiple dimensions onto the land as ‘arbiters of cultural expression. This includes
a holistic blending of environmental concerns, a site’s programming, and the needs of clients
and users. ‘There is an inherent responsibility that accompanies this task, however. Our work
[as designers] has weight and consequences ecologically, historically, socially that are
dangerous to ignore’ (Guftason, in Amidon 2001, foreword).
The design framework elements
Threads of commonality emerging from the literature were subsequently conrmed in site
visits and interviews (discussed in later paragraphs), leading to the identication of ve
complementary design principles that, when combined, form a framework for the design
of good, small public parks applicable in a range of built environments (Figure 1). These
principles are: accessibility, specicity, authenticity, adaptability and functionality. They are
Figure 1.Framework illustrating the design principles of a good, small public park, including Accessibility,
Specificity, Authenticity, Adaptability and Functionality.
not intended to represent a theoretically comprehensive list of factors but rather provide a
guiding foundation for practical application.
Accessibility1 is perhaps the most important element of a small park. As clearly spelled
out in the literature, a small park should be easily encountered in the course of the normal
day’s routine. Local parks and public spaces must be treated with importance and purposeful
planning, not as an afterthought or sited on leftover or undesirable lots (Forsyth, Musacchio,
and Fitzgerald 2005). Parks in such locations do not convey the idea that a space is ‘public’
(even if it is), fails to adequately benet its community, and is often underutilized. Frederick
Law Olmsted (1904, 19) recognized the tendency to do this, and writing over 100 years ago
stated, ‘the choice of land for parks is often made in a sadly unbusinesslike way’. This leads
to missed opportunities and non-specic spaces that do not enhance a community in the
important way they could. Small parks should also capitalize on direct ties between the
pedestrian and the street, considered the most important relationship in urban space design
(Whyte 1979).
Specicity means a site is specic to its location and users and possesses qualities that
make it special, unique and distinct. It must draw its identity from its context and if a park
is to be a socially suitable neighbourhood space, the designer must be responsible to the
user (Hester 1974; Li 2014). In biology, ‘specicity’ is referred to as the selective attachment
or inuence of one substance on another, and in terms of a public park, an attachment
develops with the user as each inuences the other. A specic reason a design is appropriate
in a specic location is needed for a symbiotic relationship to develop as the park’s users
identify with its specic characteristics. For example, specicity may be derived from the
ethnic or religious aliation of the adjacent population. It implies that conditions particular
to the location also inform the making of a designed landscape’ (Treib 2001, 121). Whether
located in urban, suburban or small town neighbourhoods, those who live, work and recreate
near it must relate to the space.
Authenticity is the genius loci of a space, and is closely related to site specicity. It is a term
meaning to be genuine, real and not fake and a park possessing authenticity must be genuine
in its public representation. An analogy of the use of follies in landscape design helps elu-
cidate this principle. Follies convey a concept, rather than being functional, and ‘are built to
suggest history, provoke reactions and mimic legacies. They are not intended to be authentic’
(Chan 2006). Building upon this argument, if a park is to be authentic, it must actually be the
thing it is representing, not contrived or pre-prescribed, the downfall of some well-intended
parks. This happens when something successful in one area is replicated elsewhere (Carmona
2010) without careful thought as to authenticity. Treib (2001) cautioned of the danger of
blind copying that:
… replicate(s) patterns and forms without any real consideration of the local conditions or the
consequences of such replication …Too often, we are skillful at copying forms as portrayed in
photographs without investigating to sucient depth the ideas behind them. (123)
Therefore, authenticity is not idealization, romanticism, a caricature of something else or
mythological. Those regularly encountering a space should recognize it as one that draws
them back again, encouraging the park and user to share a collective memory and past while
making new memories in the present and future.
Adaptability in public park design encompasses the ideal of sustainability. As a living organ-
ism, a community is in perpetual motion, contracting and expanding with the rhythm of life.
Small parks, embedded in this life form, must change and grow along with the neighbourhood
in reaction to the forces and actions of its community. As Treib (2001, 121) noted, ‘landscape
design consciously or not always reects contemporary values and attitudes; there is no
one way to create a landscape, even at a particular time’. Such a perspective promotes a
sustainable landscape responsive to a dynamic context. Balmori (1993, 41) suggested an
adaptive direction for developing urban park programs linking park design to ‘the basic con-
dition of landscape: change over time’. Time is referred to as the fourth dimension in landscape
architecture and the natural sciences and a consideration in the design and use of public
space. Diurnal, seasonal and other aspects of time have their own rhythms and planning
must be mindful of the ‘changes that lie ahead in time’ (Mertens 2010, 102). Adaptability
therefore includes upgrading and replacing elements that have become run-down, obsolete
or unusable an aspect of park maintenance. As landscape is itself an ‘organic, evolutionary
element’, it can respond to the changes in the human life cycle and in demographics, pro-
viding both exibility and continuity’ (Balmori 1993, 41), with ‘long term use by local people’
key to developing ‘distinctive places’ (Townshend and Madanipour 2008, 325). This exibility
makes such an approach the ‘most appropriate to an urban setting’ (Treib 2001, 121).
Functionality is dened by Webster’s dictionary as ‘the special purpose or activity for which
a thing exists or is used’. In terms of a public park, its function(s) should meet the specic
needs of the surrounding community. Loukaitou-Sideris and Sideris’ (2010, 101) study of 100
parks concluded, ‘the most signicant factors attracting children to parks are active recreation
facilities and sport programs, the presence of natural features, and good maintenance and
cleanliness’. Chiesura (2004) reported similar ndings. These things point squarely to a space’s
functionality. The design of space subscribes to the theory of ‘form as well as of function’ as
admonished by Garrett Eckbo. The tight relationship between form and function is certainly
true in a small park that often accommodates multiple uses upon a modest plot of ground,
what Dee (2001) refers to as a site’s ‘robustness’. A site must be ‘artistic as well as practical, in
order to produce the maximum for those who will experience [it]’, wrote Eckbo (1950, 10).
This concept typies a common conict as functionality is sometimes trumped by design
trends or a narrow interpretation of what a park should be. Design should not preempt
function, as a designer’s viewpoint is only one of many to consider when planning public
space. Parks must likewise resist sacricing design for pure function, as creative solutions
are crucial in a small space with little room for misstep.
The discussion now turns to the research methods and application of the design frame-
work for creating good, small parks in a range of urban forms.
Research methods
The research project maintained a local, in-depth focus and employed multiple methods
with direct site observation the primary measure for verifying the framework and its trans-
ferability to dierent contexts. Auxiliary methods included document and website analysis,
interviews with professionals and in-place interviews with park users. Studying the interac-
tions between public life and public space requires asking basic questions such as ‘who,
where, what and how many?’ to generate specic and useful data (Gehl and Svarre 2014).
Experiential knowledge is also gained through qualitative, people-centred methods coupled
with background research, as some relevant information cannot be ascertained without the
local knowledge obtained from neighbourhood residents. The use of interviews helps ll
these gaps and provides direct quotations of residents, with in-place interviews allowing
‘relationships with and perceptions of place and environment to be revealed’ (Evans and
Jones 2010, 850).
A hierarchal selection of cities of various sizes, ages, urban form and densities typical
of other American small towns and cities was needed to investigate the research ques-
tions. The first type is the older, ultra-urban city with strong, steady growth and a pop-
ulation greater than one million. Nine US cities exceed the population threshold, but
most have not followed this conurbation form and developed more slowly prior to the
1900s, with rapid growth in the twentieth century (Phoenix, Arizona, for example). The
second type is a large, multi-nuclear city experiencing booming growth since the early
1900s with a population less than one million and greater than 300,000. The third type
is a small, older city with a slow growth rate and population between 50,000 and 300,000.
The fourth type is the ubiquitous American small-town not connected to a large urban
area with a population under 50,000. Each of these town/city models has a corresponding
range of municipal park systems responsible for building and maintaining public parks
within their jurisdictions a major consideration when examining park principles.
Table 1 presents a sample of US cities as a reference for the three larger city types.
Referential small towns are not listed, as small towns are not well known outside of local
The choice of study locations was based on the predened criteria, but also constrained
by timeline, budget and existing contacts a limitation of the study. The ability to travel to
study sites within reasonable cost and distance expenditures was paramount, thus limiting
locations to the Southeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States (Figure 2). New
York City (population ~8.5 million) represents the ultra-urban city type characterized by
high density, strong steady growth and a longer history for urban life. Miami and Miami
Beach, Florida (combined population ~525,000) typify many modern, multinuclear US cities
with rapid growth occurring since the early 1900s in lower-density, outward spread.
Roanoke, Virginia, was chosen as a small city type (population ~100,000) with a much slower
historical growth rate. Niceville, Florida, represents the small-town model (population
Table 1.A sample of US cities representative of three city types studied, including Ultra-urban historic
city, Large booming city and Small older city. Samples of the fourth type the small town with less than
50,000 in population is not included in the table. (Data: US Census Bureau).
City type City 2015 Population
Ultra-urban, Historic, Fast, steady
growth Population >1,000,000
New York City, New York 8.55 million
Los Angeles, California 3.97 million
Chicago, Illinois 2.72 million
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1.57 million
San Diego, California 1.39 million
Large, Multi-nuclear, Modern, Booming
Population: 300,000 to 1 million
Austin, Texas 931,830
Charlotte, North Carolina 827,097
Denver, Colorado 682,545
Nashville, Tennessee 654,610
Miami, Florida 441,003
Small, Older, Slower Growth
Population: 50,000 to 300,000
Newark, New Jersey 281,944
Buffalo, New York 258,703
Birmingham, Alabama 212,237
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 128,109
Roanoke, Virginia 97,764
Figure 2.Locations in the study included cities of various sizes, ages, form and densities in the Southeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States and are
typical of other American small towns and cities. (Apple Maps customized by the author).
Field research was preceded in each study location with a review of the parks depart-
ment websites (including master plans, descriptions of available facilities, etc.); interviews
with park ocials to ascertain the city’s approach to park development (most also plan-
ners or landscape architects) and/or practising landscape architects and their involvement
in the design of local parks. Twenty-four sites were ultimately chosen for further study
and visited to understand how the space was used and how people related to it. The
study locations and their contexts are provided in Figure 3 and a sample of the parks
visited is shown in Figure 4. Public parks were observed on non-holiday weekdays and
weekends generally between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. The number of users, types of amen-
ities, park appearance and maintenance was documented using eld notes and
A total of 15 interviews were conducted (summarized in Table 2): four with landscape
architects (two in-place, one by phone, one in-person); four with park ocials (by phone);
and seven informal interviews with park users (in-place). Park users were selected at random
and interviewed using a pre-prepared interview guide. The guide was completed while
speaking with the park user in the rst four interviews. Questions were incorporated into
informal conversation in the remaining three and information recorded later. Fifteen inter-
views represent a small sample and limit the generalizability of the interview data, but aug-
ment the literature review and other research methods.
Results from practice-based research
The study cities all have some form of parks master planning document (with the exception
of Niceville, Florida) developed using community engagement such as needs assessments,
public meetings and surveys. The need to build more small parks was emphasized in these
documents and listed as a top priority, with goals to locate parks within a 10-minute walk
of homes. New York City’s ‘Community Parks Initiative’ is built on a specic commitment to
small public parks located in densely populated neighbourhoods with high concentrations
of poverty. A total of 60% of parks in Niceville (8 of 13) and Miami (72 of 127), are less than
3 acres in size a substantial proportion. Corresponding ratios in New York City (5000+) and
Roanoke (70) parks could not be calculated from published information.
Issues of maintenance surfaced in interviews with practitioners and municipal ocials,
including by a planner in Champaign, Illinois
who stated their park district ‘nds that smaller
parks are dicult to maintain … [and] were not considered [in its needs evaluation] … with
many (HOA)s [homeowner associations] responsible for small neighbourhood parks.3 Thomas
Balsley, a prominent New York City landscape architect was among the practitioners inter-
viewed. Balsley’s rm has designed more than 100 public parks and plazas, two of which are
a part of this study: Capitol Plaza and Gantry Park. Balsley stressed that urban spaces need
broad appeal, but also that ‘maintenance is an issue for intensely used spaces. An urban park
must embrace its context, be active and attractive. Balsley also underscored the need for an
urban space’s appearance to be distinct from its surroundings, and it should not seem like
an extension of the building. ‘Doing so’, Balsley stated, ‘causes the public to think of the plaza
or park as private’. Miami architects interviewed emphasized the city’s modernist style and
rapidly urbanizing form as inuential in the design of public spaces reecting their specic
Figure 3.A sample of the park sites within their contexts in the four study locations: New York City; Roanoke, Virginia; Miami, Florida; and Niceville, Florida. (Apple
Maps customized by the author).
On-site observation of the design framework and interviews with park users
Good accessibility is illustrated by diverse contexts including a variety of densities, a mix of
residential, retail, oce and civic uses, and multiple ways to enter or exit a park. These features
are evident in the multiple connections in New York’s Capitol Plaza and Allen Morris Park in
Miami, Domino Park’s Calle Ocho location in the heart of Little Havana, and the ‘Magnolia
Walk’ pedestrian link (a well-used promenade and linear park space) in Roanoke’s Elmwood
Figure 4.A sample of images from study sites visited to illustrate the framework’s design principles
observed in a variety of parks, city types and contexts.
Table 2.Summary of interview data collected as part of the research project.
*Note: The city of Champaign, Illinois, was not included in the study sites visited but a phone interview with the city’s assis-
tant planner was part of an early phase of the research project.
Location Site Interviews
Miami, FL City- Landscape Architect (in person)
Parks Official (phone)
Domino Park Landscape Architect (in-place)
Enea Garden Landscape Architect (in-place)
Park user (in-place, female)
Fisher Park 3 park users (in-place; 2 female, 1 male)
Roanoke, VA -City- Parks Official (phone)
Elmwood Park 2 park users (in-place; 1 male, 1 female)
New York City Capitol Plaza Landscape Architect (phone)
Rockefeller Plaza Park user (in-place; male)
Niceville, FL -City- Parks Director (phone)
*Champaign, IL -City- Parks Official (phone)
Park. Even when located in a single-family suburban neighbourhood, good accessibility can
be achieved by locating a park along a main route. For example, Miami Beach’s Fisher Park
is bounded by the heavily used Alton Road on one side and an adjacent neighbourhood on
the other, and Niceville’s Turkey Creek Pavilion is located on the town’s main east-west state
road. A user in an open lawn area of Fisher Park stated he visits the park ‘a couple of times a
week to play with and train my dog’, and the thing he liked best about the park was ‘its
location, because I live nearby’. Accessibility is enhanced in Miami’s Allen Morris Brickell Park,
which is embedded directly into the street grid with pavement detailing used to continue
the park in all directions. Planting beds echoed on opposite sides of the streets visually
extend the park, giving it the feeling that the park, streets, crosswalks and opposite areas
are all part of one larger space, with the relationship to the street very evident.
Specicity implies a site’s design and function are specic to its location and is evident in
Enzo Enea’s Modern Rain Garden Lounge in several ways, where one of the park’s landscape
architects was interviewed. She described the space as ‘a jewelry box that when opened,
revealed its treasure inside a miniature rain forest’. The small garden space was originally
installed as a show of support for the Kyoto Protocol during 2005 Art Basel, Miami’s famous
art festival. The Enea garden is tucked into Miami’s Design District, with businesses such as
architectural and interior design rms nearby and a high school featuring a design based
arts curriculum a few doors down. True to this context, the space is elegant and modern
with luxurious materials and site appropriate plants. Comments from park-goers indicated
the park was often used for relaxation and rejuvenation by nearby workers. As one visitor
remarked, ‘Coming here takes away the stress of work and recharges my energy so I can go
back to work’.
Small towns are typically more homogenous in their population and culture, but speci-
city remains pertinent. Special features of the Turkey Creek Pavilion in the small town of
Niceville, for example, include a boardwalk that transports visitors along a nature-lled
journey. Educational signage describing native ora and fauna and distance markers
enhance pedestrians’ experience. Residents also dedicated a quiet, side boardwalk called
the ‘Path of Memories’ where names of local youth, gone too soon, are memorialized. This
area holds special meaning for that group of parents and others who have endured a similar
loss to help them reect, grieve or get away to the solace of nature and honour their loved
Site authenticity is embodied in small, specialty spaces such as waterfront parks or those
commemorating historical sites, landmarks or events. For example, New York’s Gantry Park
is a transformed industrial space where cargo from ships was once hoisted onto waiting
railroad cars. Preserved historic gantries imbue the site with authenticity and the reclaimed
space gives residents rare, direct access to the East River. Domino Park in Miami’s Little Havana
district illustrates authenticity in a created space not tied to a historic landscape. It fronts
Calle Ocho (8th Street), the main road through the tightly knit, 25-block ethnic enclave and
is abuzz with activity all day. Little Havana hosts Carnival every year and is home to many
immigrants, exiles and is well known as the cultural and political capital of Cuban-Americans.
Domino Park contains an enclosed space with tables set under open cabanas for playing
dominoes or chess. An open plaza space is used for other games, people watching, eating,
simple gathering or connecting Calle Ocho to the adjoining neighbourhood. The park is
directly relevant to its context by providing activities the population wants and is as natural
a part of this community as nearby Cuban cigar shops and restaurants. Authenticity is also
evident in parks that highlight nature within urban environments featuring a native plant
palette, as in Miami’s Brickell Park.
An easily recognized example of adaptability is the use of interstitial spaces as small parks,
monuments or city landmarks. Such spaces are created when diagonal roads are inserted
into the street grid such as Washington, DC’s DuPont Circle and Manhattan’s Herald Square.
Another common adaptation of space is the reuse of abandoned city lots, as at Miami’s Enea
Garden that was previously a parking lot. Roanoke’s Elmwood Park, established around 1900
in traditional Olmstedean fashion, exemplies the adaptability of a small park in a smaller
city. It originally contained the Terry family homestead with the feel of an upper-class country
estate featuring undulating terrain, a pond, mountain views and winding paths. The old
Terry House became the town’s rst library in 1920 and other major renovations were under-
taken in the 1960s. The pond was refashioned in the 1980s as a site for festivals and perfor-
mances and the country manor-style landscape was converted to open space. A rainwater
harvesting system was completed in 2013 and 35,000 new trees and plants were planted.
Interviews with park goers revealed that nearby workers often used Elmwood Park for exer-
cise, lunch breaks or relaxing, and frequent community-wide events and festivals. Pedestrian
connections such as the park’s ‘Magnolia Walk’ are an important way that older spaces can
be infused with new life by providing easy access to the park and connecting surrounding
locations, also demonstrating good functionality. Elmwood Park has remained a galvanizing
force for its community for over 100 years and continues looking forward to a vibrant future.
Functionality is highlighted in Miami Beach’s Fisher Park multi-use playground, a neigh-
bourhood park lled with children and adults in its active and passive areas when visited.
The park is fully accessible for those with disabilities and its variety supports multigenera-
tional visitors. Park goers commented, ‘We love to come here. It’s really convenient to stop
by after school’, and ‘This is a great place for my kids to burn o energy’. In the small town
of Niceville, Florida, the rustic-style Turkey Creek Pavilion features an open-air pavilion, stone
replace, picnic tables and barbeque grills. Turkey Creek’s highly social space provides for
gathering and physical activities residents enjoy such as canoeing, tubing and swimming.
It is the most popular of the town’s 13 parks with approximately 35,000 visitors annually. In
addition to its functionality, Turkey Creek Park exemplies specicity and authenticity
through its cultural, educational, and artistic elements. The park was constructed by city
employees as in-kind matching for state funding later used to build a three-quarter mile-
long boardwalk along the ow of Turkey Creek, demonstrating its adaptability. The town
also contains a well-used children’s park and a two-and-one-half acre youth centre featuring
skateboarding, BMX bike tracks and in-line skating geared toward older children and teens.
These examples illustrate how a small town has added quality parks to its built environment
despite limited resources.
The design framework proposed is complementary to other research of public space.
Carmona (2015) ‘re-theorises public space discourse’, and presents 10 normative principles
of good public spaces. They include: evolving (renewal/reinvestment); balanced (trac/
pedestrian); diverse (inclusionary); delineated (public vs. private); social (public life); free (to
all); engaging (opportunities/consumption); meaningful (creates experience); comfortable
(safe); and robust (resisting homogenization). There is some degree of overlap between
Carmona’s 10 principles and the framework identied in this study. These areas of agreement
should be viewed as independent, conrming works as the studies were conducted in dif-
ferent continents, cultural contexts and urban typologies.
Forsyth, Musacchio, and Fitzgerald (2005) also present design elements needed in small
public parks, including level of naturalness, connections to other open spaces, maintenance,
setting, location and trade-os. Mehta (2014) further proposes a theoretical framework to
evaluate public space and names ve elements as the basis for a public space index: inclu-
siveness, meaningful activities, safety, comfort and pleasurability. The current framework
provides a practical approach to the planning and design of small parks in a range of
ultra-urban to small town settings. The cited studies provide validation of these concepts
as they t within the larger context of public space research, as well as conrmation and
support of the proposed principles on an international level. Table 3 presents a matrix
of the public space design elements described above and how they t within the
Once recognizing the common elements of good small parks it is noticeable when they
are missing. Such spaces are not well used and often fall into neglect or become little more
than public yards requiring upkeep but oering scant benet to the surrounding community.
Empty parks become a draw for society’s ‘undesirables, typically found where other people
are not. Jane Jacobs (1961) named insucient diversity in immediate surroundings, repli-
cation of parks that are too similar to each other, and locations where people do not pass
by and probably never will, as reasons why urban spaces do not succeed. These things fall
into the categories of accessibility, authenticity and specicity. Underutilized parks are detri-
mental in many ways and provide fuel for the re of detractors who point to unused public
spaces as examples of why it is not feasible to build and maintain them.
For example, Harkrader Park in Roanoke is an attractive space with appealing features,
but virtually no access and a poor location. The author was directed there by an interviewee
in Elmwood Park who warned it would be ‘hard to nd, and most people don’t know about
it’, (and it was). Park boundaries include an interstate, a small oce building and parking lot,
and two busy highways. Sidewalks or crosswalks to help pedestrians reach the park are
missing and its only visitors are probably those working next door. Another example is
Waverly Park on Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach, a primarily empty space lacking function,
specicity and authenticity despite fabulous views of the Miami skyline. Its only tangible,
functional elements include a brick walkway adjoining the seawall and a few xed benches.
However, fences interrupt the walkway and cut o connections to neighbouring properties.
A quick stop by a dog walker was the only other park goer encountered at the site. Neither
of the above examples conveys the space is ‘public’, and they lack the framework elements
needed for good use of public space.
Table 3.Overlap in research findings of public space elements with the framework presented in this
Framework Element Carmona (2015) Forsyth, Musacchio, and Fitzgerald (2005) Mehta (2014)
Accessibility Balanced, Free Location, Connection Inclusiveness
Specificity Robust Setting Meaningful
Authenticity Meaningful Naturalness (native plants) Pleasurability
Adaptability Robust Trade-offs, Maintenance
Functionality Social, Engaging Safety/Comfort
The parks described as poor examples are not meant in criticism of any particular park
system or city’s public realm, but rather to further demonstrate design principles fundamen-
tal to the success of small parks. It must be acknowledged that limited resources present
real problems for those responsible for the creation and maintenance of public parks. This
is especially true for small parks that can be more expensive per acre to maintain than larger
parks due to their size and scattered locations (Forsyth, Musacchio, and Fitzgerald 2005). On
the other hand, land for small neighbourhood parks can be more aordable to acquire
compared to the larger parcels needed for large parks (Loukaitou-Sideris and Sideris 2010).
Parks can add uniqueness to built environments in a way that is responsive to its local context
and works to re-orient it toward contemporary values, for example, through land use patterns
that resist sprawl, promote a local focus, provide free, democratic space and create sustain-
able landscapes. It follows that relevant public spaces including parks require good design
that is ecologically, historically and socially appropriate. This study conrms that a successful
small public park is about much more than its amenities. A framework including the foun-
dational elements of authenticity, specicity, accessibility, adaptability and functionality was
identied to promote good design in small public parks. The connection to local context
was a key part of this research, as there is much less study of parks in small town or suburban
areas. Identifying design principles common in a wide range of contexts helps address this
gap. Well-designed parks are valuable assets to their neighbourhoods and address the fun-
damental needs of those using them. Examples of dierent scales, adjoining densities and
park types tested the transferability of the framework and demonstrated that public parks
are germane to cities, small towns and our increasingly urban and suburban society.
The longevity and success of innumerable public spaces is a testament to the important
role they play in people’s lives. New York’s Bowling Green and Zuccotti Park are examples of
small parks as major focal points for signicant historical events, political revolutions and
social protest. Small spaces are frequently used for memorials, such as London’s historic
Postman’s Park. Parks function as democratic ground for surrounding neighbourhoods, and
especially in dense urban areas they form a community’s collective back yard. A well-de-
signed, small park is better positioned to provide relevant social, cultural and ecological
roles in society.
This paper presented an amalgamation of various ideas related to the design and use of
small parks by formalizing critical aspects into actionable qualities that can be practically
applied when considering new development proposals, writing/modifying land use policies
or retrotting or upgrading existing parks. New development should create an environment
where people interact with, rather than withdraw from one another and natural environ-
ments through a more public life. As promoted by New Urbanism and other urban design
theories, public parks and green spaces can be introduced into preexisting communities to
link neighbourhoods via a network of green infrastructure including trails, squares or small
parks. This ribbon of green can incorporate public art, the preservation of culturally signi-
cant places, natural areas or plazas. Such a network can enhance or reintroduce nature into
the urban fabric, aording a multi-layered experience to walkers, joggers or bikers and alter-
nate routes to destinations. These things demonstrate the principles of sustainable devel-
opment within urban design and the role of public space in it.
A more equitable provision of local parks can lessen the disparity between wealthy and
poor neighbourhoods and address environmental justice issues. Therefore, planners and
parks departments should evaluate where they are missing in their communities and develop
plans to alleviate imbalances. Parks, community gardens, playgrounds or other types of small
public spaces can be more readily inserted into built environments and should be located
for free, easy access by the greatest number of people. Parks adhering to the design frame-
work presented respond to local contexts, meet the needs of the surrounding population
and possess the ability to adapt to future needs important elements in creating spaces
people care about.
1. ‘Accessibility’ is also used when describing the physical design of space that accommodates
disabled individuals, such as ramps or entrances without steps.
2. Champaign, Illinois was not among the sites selected for further study due to location and
budget constraints.
3. Homeowner associations (HOA)s are legal organizations that comprise the homeowners in a
particular neighbourhood, each of which has an equal share in, and pays annual dues to the
HOA. Common areas (such as parks, clubhouses or planted medians) are deeded to HOAs, which
are responsible for their upkeep and maintenance. HOA-maintained parks are not open to the
general public and serve only the families living in the particular neighbourhood.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author.
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... The data collection tool was a semi-structured focus group discussion (FGD) to obtain qualitative data from experts in the field of architecture. A semi-structured focus group is a facilitated group discussion in which general open questions are asked through a semistructured process and interview guide to increase the quality of information and the procedure (Cohen et al., 2017). It is also economical in time, producing a large amount of data in a short period. ...
... Therefore, the semi-structured focus group was considered an ideal tool for this research to develop and confirm the data contained in the quantitative part. The current study employed the FGD protocols of Creswell (2014); Cohen et al (2017) to design and organise semi-structured FGDs. Cohen et al (2017) suggested that the number of participants involved in the focus group should be small, between four and twelve people per group. ...
... The current study employed the FGD protocols of Creswell (2014); Cohen et al (2017) to design and organise semi-structured FGDs. Cohen et al (2017) suggested that the number of participants involved in the focus group should be small, between four and twelve people per group. FGD also can include five or six questions during a specific time (Cohen et al., 2017). ...
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Recently, the implementation of outdoor learning spaces has emerged as a crucial measure to enhance the academic experience by facilitating the augmentation of students' social interactions and learning endeavours. Investigating Asian universities reveals that these campuses mainly prioritise indoor traditional learning approaches while exhibiting little integration of social learning practices that align with academic objectives. Hence, it is vital to augment the social learning activities of students within the premises of university campuses in Asia, with the aim of enhancing the overall social learning experience. This study aims to identify the design attributes of pocket settings for enhancing social learning activity in Asian universities. This study utilised qualitative, semi-structured focus group discussions (FGDs) involving professionals and academicians in the field of architecture to assess the attributes of pocket settings on the Asian campus grounds. The data is analysed using ATLAS.ti.8. The findings indicate that the implementation of design attributes, such as design and layout, elements and activities, accessibility and proximity, and safety and security, is critically important for providing successful pocket settings on university grounds that greatly enhance the social learning experience. The results of this study make a valuable contribution to the development of a pocket setting model specifically designed for Asian campus environments. This model aims to effectively integrate informal spaces into social learning activities, ultimately enhancing the overall academic social learning experience.
... Highly densified development is limiting land use as standard city proposals inclined to conserve valuable land resources and shorten travelling distance, as Currie (2016) mentioned. The relentlessly increasing global population has led to non-stop expanding cities, jacking up land prices indefinitely, resulting in the harsh competition for land commonly shown in articles (Danford et al., 2018). ...
... Field observation and notetaking is the first phase (Hussein and Mohsin, 2019). Data obtained from field observation will then be archived in the documentation of plans and sectional drawings, similar to Currie's (2016) method. These documents will be utilised as primary data for the study. ...
... The utilisation of Laman Tun Perak: Activities in Laman Tun Perak were relatively subtle during the field observation phase. Pocket parks provide a favourite destination for walking trips (Currie, 2016). Nevertheless, Laman Tun Perak is not intended as a destination but as a pause along the way to individuals' endpoint, as justified by the landscape architect. ...
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Pocket parks emerged as a rational solution to allow access to urban parks within the constraint of limited space. Although small in scale, they are treated as valuable urban green and community assets. Attention and studies on pocket parks are rare, especially in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hence, the research explores and attempts to determine the landscape strategies of Laman Tun Perak and identify how the pocket park is being utilised. Observation, field notetaking, drawings analysis, and interview are methods employed. The research concluded that the landscape strategies of a pocket park are connectivity and permeability, safety, comfort, and activities. Keywords: landscape strategies; Laman Tun Perak; pocket park; urban green space eISSN 2514-751X ©2021. The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA cE-Bs by e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( Peer–review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA (Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians, Africans, Arabians), and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. DOI:
... The objectives are to identify how Laman Tun Perak is utilised and determine its design elements. Currie (2016) stated that most urbanisation is inclined towards highly densified development because city proposals conserve precious land resources and reduce travelling distance. And as the global population rises, cities continue to expand, and the land value increases indefinitely, causing the competition for land to become fierce (Danford et al., 2018). ...
... During the field observation phase, activities in Laman Tun Perak were relatively subtle. Currie (2016) stated that parks provide a favourite destination for walking trips. However, the landscape architect mentioned that Laman Tun Perak is not intended as a destination but as a pause along the way to individuals' endpoint, which to an extent, on-site evidence supported this. ...
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Pocket Park, a small-scale open urban green space valued as community assets, is introduced as an alternative for urban parks within limited space constraints. However, research on pocket parks, explicitly in Kuala Lumpur, is scarce compared to Western cities. This study looked into the design elements of Laman Tun Perak to investigate its significance to the urbanites. The objectives are to identify how the pocket park is utilised and determine its design elements. The design elements of a pocket park are connectivity and permeability, safety, comfort, and activities. Keywords: Design elements, Laman Tun Perak, Pocket Park, Urban Green Spaces eISSN: 2398-4287 © 2022. The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA cE-Bs by e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK. This is an open access article under the CC BYNC-ND license ( Peer–review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA (Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians/Africans/Arabians) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. DOI:
... Good pocket parks generally meet the criteria of authenticity, specificity, functionality, adaptability, security, attractiveness, and accessibility [45,46]. In summary, the factors influencing the use of pocket parks can be categorized 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 A c c e p t e d M a n u s c r i p t ...
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The rapid urbanization and climate change have resulted in socio-environmental issues that necessitate viable intervention strategies to create green, healthy, and livable built environments. One effective method is the development of pocket parks. Although several studies have explored the benefits and design principles of pocket parks, there is a lack of systematic and quantitative understanding. In view of this knowledge gap, this study employs bibliometric methods and critical review to quantitatively analyze and systematically review 276 papers published in the Web of Science and Scopus databases between 1977 and 2023. Firstly, a bibliometric analysis is conducted, providing a comprehensive overview of research on pocket parks. Secondly, a detailed critical review is conducted from three major perspectives: influencing factors, design methods, and benefits of pocket parks. Finally, the research trends and future directions are discussed. The results indicate that (a) pocket park development takes various forms, with a growing number of articles published each year. However, research on this topic is primarily concentrated in the United States and China, with significant knowledge gaps remaining globally. (b) The utilization of pocket parks is affected by various factors, including internal, external physical, and socio-economic factors. The mechanisms of these factors and their interactions demand deeper understanding. (c) There is a need to conduct an in-depth exploration of planning methods for pocket parks, and planning and design methods in different country contexts can be expanded and compared. (d) Further research is needed to compare the benefits of pocket parks in different climatic zones in terms of depth and width. The outcome of this study can contribute to the body of knowledge on pocket parks, foster their wider acceptance, and help urban planners, practitioners, policy makers, and government managers apply them more effectively in resilient and livable cities of the future.
... The questionnaire was divided into three parts according to the study variables. The content of the questionnaire was developed after an intensive literature review of original studies published in indexed journals [6,10,13,15,27,31,33,35,47,53]. The first item included verbal questions on demographic variables (participants variables) including gender (1 = male and 2 = female), ethnicity (1 = Malay, 2 = Chinese, 3 = Indian, and 4 = others), educational level (1 = Bachelor student, 2 = Master students, 3 = Ph.D. student, and 4 = others), and university (1 = UM, 2 = UPM, 3 = UKM) [31,33,47]. ...
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Social learning spaces on campus ground, including nearby pockets, have become crucial for sustainable development to promote academic outcomes by enhancing the social learning experience. In line with the global trends, nearby pocket settings on the tropical campus should encourage interactive social learning activities. This study aimed to identify the preferred attributes of pocket spaces to predict students' social learning experience on campus grounds in a tropical context. A visual-verbal questionnaire survey was conducted at three Malaysian universities to investigate the visual preference of 408 respondents toward four different design attributes of pocket settings (softscape, hardscape, shading structure, and activity type). Six photographs of sustainable pocket spaces from tropical and hot moist regions were selected and analyzed using a systematic approach. This study found that the main attribute predicting social learning experience on campus ground in a tropical context was providing nearby pocket settings designed with a robust, sustainable shading structure. Providing different types of unique softscape and hardscapes also contribute to predicting the social experience on campus ground in the Tropics. The results also indicated that students from different backgrounds (ethnicity, education, and university) have different preferences for nearby pockets and perform different social learning experiences on campus grounds. The findings contributed information to the development of sustainable, interactive on-campus settings through integrating nearby pockets in social learning to improve academic experience. It may serve as a reference for policymakers, academic administration, architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to optimize social learning as essential in on-campus settings.
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توزیع متعادل فضاهای سبز شهری به بهترین شکل آن و توجه به بومگرایی در طراحی و برنامه ریزی آنها مزایای اجتماعی، اقتصادی، روانی و زیست محیطی بسیاری را به همراه دارد. بافت تاریخی شهر خرم آباد نیز به دلیل عدم توجه به این موضوع علاوه بر محرومیت از مزایای ذکر شده با مسائل و مشکلات بسیاری مواجه شده است. از این رو این پژوهش با هدف برنامه ریزی پارک های جیبی در بافت تاریخی شهر خرم آباد با رویکرد بومگرایی و پاسخ به سوال چگونگی جانمایی آنها در این بافت انجام شده است. روش تحقیق در این پژوهش توصیفی_ تحلیلی بوده و از این نظر که اصولی برای شکل دهی و برنامه ریزی پارکهای جیبی تدوین می شود از پژوهش های کاربردی محسوب می شود. همچنین داده ها و اطلاعات مورد نیاز در این پژوهش به روش های کتابخانه ای، مشاهده میدانی و پرسشنامه جمع آوری و برای تحلیل آنها از روش آوات ترکیب روش سوآت و ای اچ پی استفاده شده است. دستاورد نهایی این پژوهش راهبردهای برنامه ریزی پارک جیبی در شهر خرم آباد و تدوین دستور العمل های ایجاد پارک جیبی در این شهر در سه اصل سلامت، انعطاف پذیری آب و هوایی و مشخصه های فیزیکی و جانمایی این پارک ها در بافت تاریخی شهر خرم آباد با توجه به این اصول و شناخت حاصل شده از بافت می باشد.
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Introduction. The sociological content of the concept of social atmosphere remains unclear, it is constantly refined and supplemented. An attempt is made to consider the social atmosphere as a set of strata of social interaction mediated to varying degrees by material, non-material and psychological (psychosomatic) factors.Methodology and sources. The conceptual theoretical and methodological positions of the study are represented by a set of ideas of M. Weber, A. Lefebvre, L. Althusser, A.V. Petrovsky,A.I. Dontsov, as well as the provisions and conclusions of interdisciplinary studies of the relationship between social processes and psychosomatics, in particular, expressed in the works of R.G. Khalitova, V.V. Vasina and others. The social atmosphere is considered as a set of strata of interactions that develop between subjects under the influence of a wide variety of factors. The authors used official statistics and secondary data for a thirty-year period of turbulent socio-economic transformations from 1990 to 2020.Results and discussion. It has been empirically confirmed that the overall mortality rate depends on the political and socio-economic events in the country. The extreme points of the take-off of mortality rates have been identified, which are the psychological reaction of people to significant socio-political events (the breakdown of the social system, a coup d'état, default). After 2000, the income of the population began to grow, but mortality did not decrease to the level of 1990. Throughout the analyzed period, the incidence rates of socially significant diseases also remain high.Conclusion. The analysis of statistical materials indicates the importance of non-material, mental-emotional determinants of public health and life expectancy, which are associated with the social atmosphere.
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Given the rapidly increasing need for policies with regard to single-person households in Korea, this study examines the effects of park accessibility and the connectivity of green spaces on the spatial distribution of single-person households. SK-Tmap API and Conefor 2.6 are used to analyze park accessibility and green space connectivity, respectively. Multiple and spatial regression analyses are conducted using variables for the following three characteristics: park and green space, housing, and region. The findings show that generalized Betweenness Centrality–Integral Index of Connectivity based index (dBC_IIC), apartments, studio apartments, housings larger than 85 m2, distance to welfare facilities, and population density had a positive association with the spatial distribution of single-person households, while park accessibility, difference in Number of Links (dNL), generalized Betweenness Centrality–Probability of Connectivity based index (dBC_PC), and housing sale prices had a negative relationship. Regression analyses are further conducted for different age groups (10–20 years, 30–50 years, and over 60 years). In terms of park connectivity, dBC_PC showed a negative effect and dBC_IIC had a positive effect for the 10–20 age groups, while the 30–50 age group showed the same result as that of all single-person households. For single-person households over 60 years of age, no connectivity index was found to be significant. Policy implications are made in the short- and mid- to long-term for strengthening the connectivity of parks and green spaces in the study area. The results of this study can be used as an important guideline for establishing park and green space plans in consideration of single-person households in the future.
Conference Paper
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Balanced distribution of urban green spaces in its best form and attention to ecology in their design and planning brings many social, economic, psychological and environmental benefits. The historical context of Khorramabad city has also faced many issues and problems due to the lack of attention to this issue in addition to the deprivation of the mentioned benefits. Therefore, this research has been done with the aim of planning pocket parks in the historical context of Khorramabad city with an ecological approach and answering the question of how to place them in this context. The research method in this research is descriptive-analytical, and it is considered as applied research in the sense that principles are formulated for the formation and planning of pocket parks. Also, the data and information needed in this research were collected by library methods, field observation and questionnaire, and AWOT method (combination of SWOT and AHP method) was used for their analysis. The final result of this research is the planning strategies of the pocket park in Khorramabad city and the compilation of instructions for creating a pocket park in this city, in the three principles of health, climate flexibility and the physical characteristics and placement of these parks in the historical context of Khorramabad city according to this Principles and knowledge obtained from context. توزیع متعادل فضاهای سبز شهری به بهترین شکل آن و توجه به بومگرایی در طراحی و برنامه ریزی آنها مزایای اجتماعی، اقتصادی، روانی و زیست محیطی بسیاری را به همراه دارد. بافت تاریخی شهر خرم‌آباد نیز به دلیل عدم توجه به این موضوع علاوه بر محرومیت از مزایای ذکر شده با مسائل و مشکلات بسیاری مواجه شده است. از این رو این پژوهش با هدف برنامه ریزی پارک‌های جیبی در بافت تاریخی شهر خرم‌آباد با رویکرد بوم گرایی و پاسخ به سوال چگونگی جانمایی آنها در این بافت انجام شده‌است. روش تحقیق در این پژوهش توصیفی-تحلیلی بوده و از این نظر که اصولی برای شکل دهی و برنامه ریزی پارک‌های جیبی تدوین می‌شود از پژوهش‌های کاربردی محسوب می‌شود. همچنین داده‌ها و اطلاعات مورد نیاز در این پژوهش به روش‌های کتابخانه‌ای، مشاهده میدانی و پرسشنامه جمع آوری و برای تحلیل آنها از روش AWOT (ترکیب روش SWOT و AHP) استفاده شده‌است. دستاورد نهایی این پژوهش راهبردهای برنامه ریزی پارک جیبی در شهر خرم آباد و تدوین دستور العمل‌های ایجاد پارک جیبی در این شهر، در سه اصل سلامت، انعطاف پذیری آب و هوایی و مشخصه‌های فیزیکی و جانمایی این پارک‌ها در بافت تاریخی شهر خرم‌آباد با توجه به این اصول و شناخت حاصل شده از بافت می‌باشد.
Urban Public Spaces (UPS) are important arenas for human interaction and social activities, and ensuring their quality and functionality is crucial for a successful urban design with public health benefits. However, mostly for insufficient public participation, user experiences of UPS are usually not what the designers were expecting. Therefore, the urgent need to investigate the difference in UPS perception between design professionals and ‘laypersons’, that is, non-professional users, has been increasingly highlighted. In this paper, we utilize Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) and physiological measurement tools to obtain empirical observations on the psychological and physiological responses, as well as environmental preferences on UPS of the two groups, compare their perceptual similarities and differences, and consequently analyze the influencing factors and potential mechanisms. We find that the environmental perception of the two groups do differ, with design professionals showing a higher degree of ‘intolerance’ in the quality rating of UPS, and being more sensitive to scene features related to necessary than spontaneous and social activities. The findings reveal structural differences for the two groups in the mechanisms by which environmental features trigger perceptual differences, thus providing new support for designers to prepare ready-made UPS design templates that are evidence-based.
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As urbanization progresses, open space becomes structured as units of progressively smaller sizes and with more pronounced physical and functional boundaries. This paper analyzes these Open Space Units (OSUs) in Flanders, and seeks how size of open space units, hence also spatial fragmentation, affects the evaluation of these units. The results clearly confirm a ‘fragmentation bias’, meaning a lower valuation of smaller units, which leads to a strategic gap and land use uncertainty concerning large stretches of area with high degree of fragmentation. This valuation is confronted with the contrasting and positive values expressed in a strategic open space project by local stakeholders about a typical peri-urban remnant open space unit. Overcoming the ‘fragmentation bias’ in open space valuation is a continuing challenge in planning and open space policies, especially in highly urbanized environments.
“We don’t sell gardens; we sell images of gardens.” This observation on the part of a landscape architect makes it clear just how important it is that a design be effectively communicated to the community, clients, and the public. Drawings, models, simulations, and films communicate the designers’ proposed ideas and solutions, but they also convey their attitude toward the use of nature and the environment. With myriad possibilities – including computer programs as well as hand drawings and models, which continue to be widely used – and strong competition in the field, there is now a huge variety of visual representations, with agreed-upon rules but also a great deal of freedom. In three large sections, this books sifts through the currently commonplace and available techniques and evaluates them in terms of their informative value and persuasive power, always illustrating its points with analysis of examples from international firms. An introductory look at the development thus far is followed by a systematic presentation of modes of representation in two, three, and four dimensions – in the plane, in space, and in the temporal process. The second section deals with the sequence within the workflow: from the initial sketch through concept and implementation planning all the way to the finished product. The third section deals with the strategic use of visualizations in the context of competitions, future schemes, and large-scale landscape planning. The focus in this section is not on the familiar use of the relevant techniques, but rather on the methods and forms of visual representation in contemporary landscape architecture.
How do we accommodate a growing urban population in a way that is sustainable, equitable, and inviting? This question is becoming increasingly urgent to answer as we face diminishing fossil-fuel resources and the effects of a changing climate while global cities continue to compete to be the most vibrant centers of culture, knowledge, and finance. Jan Gehl has been examining this question since the 1960s, when few urban designers or planners were thinking about designing cities for people. But given the unpredictable, complex and ephemeral nature of life in cities, how can we best design public infrastructure vital to cities for getting from place to place, or staying in place for human use? Studying city life and understanding the factors that encourage or discourage use is the key to designing inviting public space.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s a variety of Americans began to protest the loss of open space to suburban sprawl. The critics of sprawl-William Whyte, most notably-argued that open space had great aesthetic, social, and ecological value. To preserve open space, activists lobbied for the acquisition of public land and touted land-saving forms of development. Although both efforts brought important successes, both proved inadequate. Even so, the open-space debate had enduring consequences: It shaped later efforts to force builders to meet new environmental obligations, and it played a key role in the evolution of the environmental movement.
The global public spaces literature has been critical of contemporary manifestations of public space on a number of grounds. This article reports on a research project that attempted to gauge the validity of these critiques through an examination of new and regenerated public spaces in London. The article introduces the dominant critiques around public space before outlining the mixed-methods approach used to interrogate them. The key findings from this work are summarised before the nature of contemporary public space is re-theorised in a more avowedly positive and pragmatic manner than is often the case, one that celebrates a return of a public spaces paradigm through tentatively advancing a new narrative and set of normative principles for public space generation. The work concludes that a more balanced view of public space is required, one that recognises the multiple complex types, roles and audiences for public spaces in cities today.
Public space plays an important role in sustaining the public realm. There is a renewed interest in public space with a growing belief that while modern societies no longer depend on the town square or the piazza for basic needs, good public space is required for the social and psychological health of modern communities. New public spaces are emerging around the world and old public space typologies are being retrofitted to contemporary needs. Good public space is responsive, democratic and meaningful. However, few comprehensive instruments exist to measure the quality of public space. Based on an extensive review of literature and empirical work, this paper creates a public space index to assess the quality of public space by empirically evaluating its inclusiveness, meaningfulness, safety, comfort and pleasurability. Four public spaces in downtown Tampa, Florida, are examined using the index and several applications for public space planners, designers and managers are suggested.
This paper examines the role of ethnicity and culture in the making of urban parks. It focuses on neighbourhood parks in three Chinatowns to explore how park design that addresses the social and cultural needs of the user groups affects park uses. The study employs a combination of field observation, personal interviews, and archival research to examine how the park is used by the ethnic community, uses which adapt or subvert the dominant forms of public space and public life. While the case studies reveal the unique cultural practices of the Chinese as an ethnic group, the analysis also provides general insight into the association between park design and the level of integration of park space into the everyday life of ethnic minorities.
The increasing involvement of the private sector in the design and management of urban public space has prompted some critical scholars to predict the ‘end of public space’. This study reassesses the implications of private sector involvement through a comparative analysis of British and Dutch urban spaces, based on a threefold critique of the existing literature on the privatization of public space. The analysis is governed by a new model of pseudo-public space that consists of four dimensions of ‘publicness’: ownership, management, accessibility and inclusiveness (OMAI). The findings suggest that, while there are significant differences between the British and the Dutch cases, neither context supports the notion of a possible ‘end of public space’ in any literal sense.