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Yazdani, Nasim and Lozanovska, Mirjana 2014, Representation of multiculturalism in
urban green spaces : a review of immigrants' experiences in Australia, in UHPH 2014 :
Landscapes and Ecologies of Urban and Planning History : Proceedings of the 12th
Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference, Australasian Urban History /
Planning History Group and Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand,
Available from Deakin Research Online
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Copyright: 2014, Australasian Urban History / Planning History Group and Victoria
University of Wellington
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 851
Representation of Multiculturalism in
Urban Green Spaces
A review of immigrants’ experiences in Australia
Rapid population influx due to migration in Australia has produced diverse cultural
landscapes, which become visible in cities as physical forms, settings and symbols
produced by different ethnic communities. Scholars have argued that people moving
away from the country of their birth, whether this be a necessary migration, labour
mobility or voluntary migration, results in a difficult process of resettlement for families
and individuals. To provide a cohesive multicultural society for all citizens, it is essential
to understand how immigrants perceive their new environments and how they make
connections in a new land in the process of cultural renewal. While the policy of
‘multiculturalism’ has had a rocky road since the optimistic 1970s, a drive through many
suburbs in Australian cities shows buildings, festivals and communal gatherings of
people that express and refer to diverse cultural backgrounds.
Urban green spaces, ranging from private home gardens to public parks and botanical
gardens, play an important role in the life of immigrants. Besides psychological and the
restorative effects of urban green spaces, these spaces are public places that provide
opportunities for recreation, social gatherings, and the celebration of collective cultural
values and events such as festivals for many communities. This study aims to raise
awareness of ethnicity as an important issue in park settings and spaces. It investigates
the interrelationship between these cultural practices in the urban park environment, in
relation to ethnic and cultural identity and physical settings. The concept of
transculturalism – reinventing a new common culture as a result of migration to a new
place – can help the analysis of the affects and the perception of urban green spaces.
The paper will review different experiences of immigrants in relation to the use and
perception of urban green spaces, developing alternative perspectives about the
In UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history, Proceedings of the 12th conference of the Australasian Urban
History / Planning History Group, edited by Morten Gjerde and Emina Petrović (Wellington: Australasian Urban History / Planning History
Group and Victoria University of Wellington, 2014).
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 852
Keywords: Immigrants, Urban green spaces, Perception, Australia
Australian cities are facing rapid increases in cultural and ethnic diversity due to migration and
various lifestyle patterns. The park environments in Australia are areas where people from different
cultural backgrounds can experience each other’s distinctiveness thereby staging temporary habitats
for cultural diversity. In this sense, urban parks as public spaces provide the setting in which the first
encounter of Australian nature is experienced by many migrants (abi, 1358, Denis Byrne et al., 2013).
Parks are places in which family and community gatherings occur enabling the fostering of deeper
bonds between people, and with the places. This perspective looks at park visitation by recent
migrants through the lens of place-making, and allows us to see that recent immigrants in Australia
use the park spaces not just for recreation but also for building up personal associations with
particular places (Denis Byrne et al., 2013).
The migrant experiences of parks can result in greater social attachment to parklands. If cultural and
ethnic groups are restricted in their use of parks, then the opportunity to make relationships
between places and the communities who use them is missed. Parklands must be socially, as well as
biologically, sustainable to survive, thus the social relations in parklands are considerable issues in
park design and management (Goodall et al., 2004). According to Eisenhauer et al (2000),
participation in meaningful social interactions is more effective for building attachment to places, in
contrast to scenic beauty dominated by visual and aesthetic senses or accessibility. Their study
indicates that local socio-cultural differences in the use of public lands influence emotional
attachments to special places. The development of such bonds is a combination of personal
experiences in places, cultural influences, and local community orientations to the public lands
(Eisenhauer et al., 2000). Goodall et al (2004) believe that parklands which have no social value will
not survive, and the most effective way to enhance community level support for sustainable use is to
ensure that parklands are valued and enjoyed by diverse groups of people. So how can migration be
used as a lens to examine and understand the different views and use of urban parks by diverse
Although each of us as human being has specific personalities which affect the way we see our
environment, the term “migration” in the above question refers to the experience that all
immigrants, such as the English and Irish who arrived Australia in the late 18th century, the Italians
and Greeks who came in the 1950s, the Vietnamese who arrived in the 1970s and many others who
have migrated to Australia recently, share in common: “they were all, voluntarily or otherwise,
‘displaced’” (Denis Byrne et al., 2013). Thus, in the process of “place making” in a new context, the
immigrants recall their memories of the past, their personal and cultural values, and form social and
personal relations in new physical environments. Therefore, one way to answer the above question
is to investigate the cultural background of a specific community group, the history of park creation
and park visitation by them, and then study their views and use of urban parks after migration.
These processes can be considered both transcultural in that they mediate at least two cultures, and
translocal in two ways: the locality of the park is produced by individuals and groups who have
particular kinds of park use and experience in their homeland, and by interactions of the diverse
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 853
communities within the park. A larger scale research project would undertake such studies of each
different culture, enabling a complex system of comparison and layering of data. In addition it would
require extensive research on Australian parks and landscape and a study of the history of migration
and landscape perception. The current study presents a focussed case towards highlighting the
debate, issues and contradictions of cultural diversity and the approach towards park design.
Immigration in recent decades is an important issue in many countries. Increasing cultural diversity
in multicultural societies will result, in some cases, relying exclusively or semi-exclusively on oral
traditions (Sandercock, 1998). Architects and urban planners will need to consider cultural issues
and perspectives in planning urban spaces in order to avoid creating what Relph (1976) has called
“placelessness”, or lacking sense of place and inauthentic physical environments in urban spaces
(Relph, 1976). Relph examined the concept of place in relation to people’s identity of and with place.
Identity of a place, as Relph states, is “persistent sameness and unity which allows that [place] to be
differentiated from others” (Relph, 1976). This identity is described in relation to three factors: (1)
the physical setting of that place; (2) the activities, and events which take place there; and (3) the
meanings that are created by individuals and groups through their experiences and intentions.
Identity in relation to place thus refers to more thoroughly understanding the places as important
centres of our prompt experiences of the environment. So if place was integral to a person’s identity
and experienced through attachment, how does sense of place evolve into a different future that
adapts to a new place? What is the role of culture, customs and values in this process of forming
relationships with new places?
The idea of sense of place, in the case of perceiving and experiencing urban parks by immigrants
which is the focus of this paper, refers to the way individuals and communities see and interpret the
park spaces. Part of this interpretation and perception involves the pragmatic habits particular to
communities - the act of going to the park, cultural and recreational activities, the ways that food is
prepared, transported and shared, that result in “imprinting the park with a group’s identity” (Denis
Byrne et al. 2013). It is through such acts that humans have made themselves ‘at home’ in new
environments. And it is arguable that human life is dependent on having at least some places where
people are at home.” The migrants’ effort of home-building illustrates their sense of belonging and
feeling homely in the new country as a process of settlement (Hage, 1997, Lozanovska, 2011).
Relph addresses this lived intensity of meaning, between a person and place, through the
conception of “insideness” which is the level of attachment, importance and involvement that a
person or group has for a special place. “Insideness” and “outsideness” were used by Relph (1976)
and Tuan (1974, 1977) to describe people’s feeling of being part of a place. Tuan (1974, 1977)
argued that “sense of place” and “rootedness” are different concepts, where sense of place is a
description of an awareness of a positive feeling towards a place, and rootedness is a feeling of
being home (Hauge, 2007, Tuan, 1974, Tuan, 1977). This definition of “sense of place” refers to a
positive feeling towards a place which makes that place enjoyable based on the feeling and activities
provided by that place, but the emotions of each individual towards the place can be either negative
or positive according to their particular mood, memories, and personality.
“Insideness” based on Relph’s point of view, is a person’s feeling and perception inside a place when
he or she is safe, enclosed, and comfortable. The greater the feeling of insideness in a place, the
stronger the identity is with that place. In contrast, “outsideness” is the mode of separation and
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 854
isolation in a place, when people feel a lived division between themselves and the world. The highest
level of sense of place experience is existential “insideness”, or a deep merging with the place and
the experience of home in the community and region. On the other hand, existential “outsideness”
is a sense of “strangeness and alienation” such as the feeling which new comers experience in a
place (Seamon.D and Sowers.J, 2008). Understanding whether it is “insideness” or “outsideness”
that is affecting individuals or communities needs a deep socio-cultural investigation in relation to
the place and the specific groups or individuals.
Newcomers may experience strangeness and “outsideness” in a place, but whether the specific
social and individual relationships in a place affect these experiences has not thoroughly been
investigated by Relph. How could places that Relph emphasized be created after migration and
geographical mobility? (Seamon.D and Sowers.J, 2008). Place identity can also be defined as aspects
of identity which are linked to place (Hauge, 2007), and can be described as part of self-identity. In
addition “if self-identity is related to the fundamental question ‘Who am I?’ then place-related
identity provides a perspective on this question from the standpoint of ‘Where am I?’ and ‘Where do
I belong?’” (Abrahamson, 1996, Altman and Low, 1992, Main, 2008). There is increasing interest in
the subject of how immigrant communities can make sense of place and sense of belonging to new
locations as an aspect of place identity theory (Macfarlane.R et al., 2000, Rishbeth, 2001, Roe.M,
Different concepts of place such as “sense of place”, “place attachment”, “place-identity”, and
“place dependence” are difficult to separate and are linked to each other in relation to positive
effective ties to a place (Hauge, 2007). However, the need for conceptual clarity still exists in the
interdisciplinary work on place with various epistemological traditions and focus (Patterson and
Williams, 2005). Place, in environmental psychology, has developed through different perspectives
of place. It has evolved from “physical determinism” which includes the environment, dimensions,
forms, and colours and their effects on behaviour, to a people-environment relationship view, as
dynamic and interactive. Dynamic and interactive perspective of place comprises the cultural,
psychological, and social aspects of place, which can be expressed in philosophical and poetic forms
Sense of place is also defined as an experimental process that is, created by the contribution of
setting and what is brought to it by individuals. So places in this perspective are dependent on the
persons who use them (Steel, 1981). Sense of place is often related to an emotional and effective
bond between a place and an individual; this bond ranges in intensity from immediate sensory
delight to deeply rooted attachment (Tuan, 1974). These views illustrate that places can be
perceived differently by their users, in terms of the kinds of ideals and values they bring to them,
and their rootedness in the place. However, mobility is a considerable issue in sense of place
studies. Members of these societies need to “renew their ties to place” to achieve sustainability, and
“reconnect with that place they call home”, to develop local ecological knowledge and to create
sustainable communities, through valuing their heritage and developing a rooted sense of place
(Hay, 1998). Thus, how social and cultural relationships and activities in spaces, as significant factors
in giving meaning to them, may affect place identity?
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The terms “place” and “landscape” are used to express the combination of physical and non-physical
qualities of a locality (Stephenson, 2010). Landscape is given value by having physical, perceptual,
natural, cultural, spatial, and temporal components and is likely to have different forms of meaning
and significance for various groups and disciplines (Schama, 1995, Soini, 2001, Tilley, 1994, Tuan,
1974). Similarly, place is a physical space credited with meaning, value and contestation (Altman and
Low, 1992, Crang, 1998, Ingold, 2000, Relph, 1976, Stephenson, 2010).
Parks and gardens play an important role in the life of immigrants, and different views of nature can
be discovered by understanding different perceptions of these spaces. Rapid population migration in
Australia has caused diverse ethnic landscapes, which are seen in cities as physical forms and
symbols produced by different ethnicities. Sandercock (1998) in her book Towards Cosmopolis
suggests that “transnational migration, post-colonialism, and the rise of civil society” are three socio-
cultural forces which contributed to placing the concept of “difference” on the planning and design
professions agenda (Sandercock and Lysiottis, 1998). Helen Armstrong argues that the future of
Australian cities depends on how much we can depict our differences in terms of migrant
contribution to Australia’s cultural pluralism, and how much we can consider the traditional and
cultural values and their subsequent evolution into an “Australian way of life” (Armstrong, 2001).
How can ethnic communities transfer their culture and adopt it to a new form of life? Or, on the
other hand, change the Australian way of life (as their practices eventually come to influence other
people/previous immigrants)? And where is the place of the immigrants’ cultural landscape today?
Research on differentiation in natural landscape uses and preferences only begin to give an
understanding of the way in which the cultural differences, socioeconomic status and physical
context, influence place meaning and attachment. (Main, 2008). Do the natural environment design
and form have different influences and meanings for various users? To explore the meaning of place,
and how it develops, Main (2008) in her study about the importance of public space in an immigrant
neighbourhood, suggests two concepts to consider in the relationship between design and the
meaning of places. First, meaning of place is constructed by people within specific social and cultural
context and is not inherent in the physical design of place, and second, the specific design, qualities,
and characteristics of the physical landscape influence the meaning which is constructed by people
(Main, 2008). How are urban park spaces given meaning by ethnic minority users? Does culture
affect the use and understanding of urban green spaces after migration?
Some cultural geographers such as Kay Anderson (1995), argue that suburban backyards, as private
green spaces where people make their more routine interventions in nature by arranging space for
“gardens” have also become very important in environmental issues (Anderson, 1995). Since
gardens are carriers of meaning, research on the importance of gardens opens a door to
environmental and other cultural values (Seddon, 1998). Recent research in these issues in Australia
includes the Trigger and Mulcock’s study in (2005), which investigated the way citizens perceive the
concept of “indigeneity” by implication ideas of fertility in association with different species of plants
and animals. Their research studies people’s cultivation of species, pet keeping, and desires for
“nativeness” in public parks and private gardens, and asks “why certain sectors of the community
value some plant and animal species over others, and how attachments to particular landscapes are
given expression through modification of those places” (Trigger and Mulcock, 2005). Head’s
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 856
investigation in Sydney and Wollongong also indicates the relationships between urban biodiversity
and attitudes and practices in backyards and native planting, by using the knowledge of the
biogeographical and ecological literature and the experiences of suburban backyarders (Head and
Muir, 2004). In both projects, the cultural assumptions refer to the kinds of animals and plants that
belong to the Australian landscape and the role of the multicultural human belonging within the
Australian nation in using and interpreting them.
Examining people-place relationships from a cognitive perspective, as an approach to the way places
influence individuals’ action, arose in the mid 1970s in human geography (Golledge and Rushton,
1976, Relph, 1976, Tuan, 1974), as well as in cognition studies in environmental psychology (Canter,
1977, Moore and Golledge, 1976). This approach indicates that the way people value places, and
their behaviour in places, is the result of processing information about a geographical setting by the
human mind (Burnett, 1976, Cheng et al., 2003). Figure 1 shows a cognitive model of geographic
decision making adapted from Burnett (1976) and Canter (1977).
Figure 1: A cognitive model of geographic decision making adapted from Burnett (1976) and Canter
(1977), Source: Cheng, Antony, Kruger, Linda, & Daniels, Steven. (2003): "Place" as an Integrating
Concept in Natural Resource Politics.
According to Cheng et.al (2003), the cognitive model shows that information about the place is
categorized by the human mind based on “certain cognitive strategies (heuristics)”, “personality”,
and “social and cultural factors”. This model has been applied in two fields of place-based inquiry.
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 857
First understanding the links between the way people classify places and their behaviour, and how
individuals categorize places in terms of satisfying their preferences (Canter, 1977, Kaplan and
Kaplan, 1989); and second, focusing on how cognitive strategies develop and transform in people
and place interactions (Moore and Golledge, 1976, Proshansky et al., 1983). The result of this
process, which is human behaviour as shown in Figure 2, can influence and alter the physical
Immigrants and Urban Green Spaces
Recent research in plants, belonging and boundaries often constitutes cultural geography, migration,
and identity. Graham and Connell (2006) examined the connections between identity for Greek and
Vietnamese migrants’ gardens in Sydney and their taxonomy of belonging of various kinds of fruits
and vegetables (Ghosh and Head, 2009). Since new migrants in Australia seek a place and space to
have symbols of homeland and destination, gardens frequently have been used differently from
what urban planners and house builders had schemed (Graham and Connell, 2006, Morgan et al.,
2005). As Graham et al. noted in their study, gardens are physical settings that develop creativity,
connect persons to their personal history, reflect one’s identity, and foster a sense of place within
the broader urban environment. Creating a garden helps migrants to become settled and recreate
an environment similar to their home country (Graham and Connell, 2006).
Garden creating by migrants in Australia is very significant and considerable, because the design of
home gardens influences urban landscape, sense of place and the understanding of the changing
patterns in the Australian urban landscape. Graham et al examined gardens as places to show
relationships between immigrants and their origin country as well as their new country, in relation to
the influences of the country from which migrants had emigrated. They found that Greek
immigrants’ gardens reflect a greater Australian culture than those of Vietnamese migrants, which is
due to the longer residence times of Greeks in Australia. Although the longer residence times may
also result in assimilation, especially in the next generations of immigrants, this study demonstrated
that the migrant’s relationship to their origin country affects the environment that they create
around their homes in Sydney. The relationships result the gardens and the gardens support the
relationships, and through this cultural garden design Australian landscape is increasingly influenced.
Future urban development planning needs more attention, in terms of the specific role of gardens
and migrants’ experiences within Australia (Castles, 1993, Graham and Connell, 2006).
For the majority of Australians, who live in cities and suburbs, backyard gardens are places where
key environmental involvements occur, and they are valued as havens of privacy and freedom, and
have capability for research into migrant engagements with place as sites where people do their
traditions from their homeland and maintain their cultural identity (Armstrong, 1999, Head et al.,
2004). A study about immigrants’ gardens and backyards, in Fairfield, Sydney, found that many
migrant symbolise connections both to homeland and to Australia and even other cultures in their
backyard gardens. Generally, immigrants from urban backgrounds turn their gardens into collections
of objects to symbolise self and a sense of cultural belonging (or longing) rather than planting and
cultivation. These immigrants use their gardens to exhibit their cultural, national or spiritual
continuity in a more public way, while the cultural transactions are seen in their backyard activities.
This study also illustrates the variety of gardening traditions among immigrants who grow plants
from their homelands and try to symbolise transitions and contrasts. This suburban creativity for
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 858
symbolising homeland results in a blend of symbols of Australian and other cultures. This study
emphasises cultural identity and multiculturalism in semi-public backyards spaces, and indicates the
role of garden in connecting nature and culture (Morgan et al., 2005).
These investigations represent the way immigrants in a new place reconnect to their past memories
and try to maintain their cultural identity by practicing, symbolising, and expressing their cultural
values in their home gardens. As Breakwell (1996) asserts, they try to compensate for the reduction
of the support of the familiar places for identity structure and struggle with the challenges of
identity in different new environments (Breakwell, 1996). Cultural and religious practicing socially
and personally, planting and cultivation familiar products, and illustrating an icon or icons of their
originality and cultural values in their gardens, are all found as ways to achieve these goals in their
Some important ethnographic studies in Australia have examined how immigrants’ communities
such as Macedonian and Vietnamese interact with the environments of the New South Wales
National Parks and wildlife service. The cultural beliefs and practices in both groups grow out of the
understanding of nature in both Australia and their own countries. These studies demonstrate how
Vietnam’s high population and agricultural base cause people to understand that landscape is a
place for “social relations, personal experiences, and human engagement”, full of smells and sounds.
For the Macedonian, landscape is also a place for socialising, but distinct from any notion of a
“wilderness”. In both immigrant groups understanding the park is dependent on a cultural history,
which is involved in the daily integration of people with the environment (Head et al., 2005).
The Macedonians have a tradition of socialising that has developed in outdoor recreational settings,
such as the huge annual Macedonian picnics in the Royal National Park. This allowed them to expand
their national feelings, gather in their language, and for the new comers it was an introduction to the
people, which all lead to social cohesion. Study of environmental perception revealed that the
majority of Macedonians insisted that the Australian bush is bereft of smell to them. It is argued that
the priority for ethnic communities primarily, is their value for social gatherings (Thomas and Wales,
2002). Since parks and public green spaces are known as places for recreation, relaxation and
restoration, they seem to be important places for immigrants across different ethnic groups to have
family and friends’ gatherings, cultural celebrations, and festivals.
This study also reveals how we might better address the cultural complexity of contemporary
Australia, and how parklands and other open spaces play an important role in consolidating the
feeling of being Macedonian in Australia. One of the significant issues in parklands is that people
could be together, speak their language, drink their grappa, sing, and dance. This research reveals
how the Macedonian landscape continues to influence the younger people’s perception of the
environment, and the sensory stimulus such as the sense of smell, is mediated by cultural
experience. It is concluded that our public demand and our community standing can be enhanced if
the social values of the landscape is considered as our significant priorities (Thomas and Wales,
The study of Arabic immigrants and the urban environment along Sydney’s Georges River compares
environmental knowledge and practices, which immigrants bring from their homelands, with their
experiences in Australia. Arabic immigrants have come to Australia from countries such as Lebanon,
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 859
Palestine, Syria and Iraq, and lots of them have settled in the industrial, working class suburbs along
the northern bank of the Georges River in Sydney. They are frequent users of a series of parklands
along the river, and the river itself for relaxation fishing, Jet Ski and other recreation. Arabic
Australians have brought their homeland environmental cultural knowledge to build attachment to
their new homes in the conditions of local environments and socio political tensions of
contemporary life. They also use park spaces in various religious ceremonies such as Eid-ul-Fitar in
Ramadan. It is argued that people who migrate grieve for their losses for many years, even for the
physical environments with which they were familiar. Such memories can affect their lives and also
lives of their children (Goodall, 2012).
This study reports how cultural difference shapes environmental relationships in Georges River area
in urban Sydney. Indigenous, Anglo-Irish, Vietnamese and Arabic Australians have been interviewed
as resident nearby to learn how they understand and use the river and its surrounding parklands and
how they interact with each other in these natural settings. This study then focuses on Arabic
Australians of Georges River, looking at what they bring to the river and how they actually
experience the parklands and river. This study also demonstrates that people bring with them, and
also pass on to their children, memories of place and environment (Goodall, 2012).
The cultural constructions of open spaces have also been examined in a study of Vietnamese
communities’ interactions with the environments of the New South Wales National Parks and
wildlife service which documents the differing experiences of Vietnamese-Australians. In this
research the range of Vietnamese understandings of the natural and cultural environment, both in
Australia and in Vietnam, have been investigated, and it has been found that Vietnamese people not
only enjoy contemplating landscapes, but interacting with them based on their cultural
determinants (Thomas, 2002).
Some of the other Australian studies have focused on comparing the aboriginal and other relations
to the same natural environment. Palmer (2004) has examined the use of Kakadu National Park in
Northern Territory in relation to two groups of users; the recreational fishers and bush walkers who
see the landscape as a place for recreation and leisure, and the traditional Aboriginal owners who
perceive the landscape as a connection to the both material resources for practical usage and
intelligent spirituality (Palmer, 2004).
Cory et.al (2009) in a study of barriers and incentives to urban park use in Melbourne among
Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, Greek, and Indian ethnic communities has identified that second
generation Australians, who generally speak a language other than English at home, have low
participation rates in urban parks. This study reviews three categories of barriers to participation in
leisure activities in Melbourne’s urban parks which have been investigated in literature before: 1-
“intrapersonal (personal) barriers” such as low personal interest in leisure; 2-“interpersonal
(interactional) barriers”, such as a lack of people to accompany; 3- “structural (supply) barriers”,
such as not having an appropriate location, and lack of existing opportunities, time, season, and
financial resources. This study also emphasises the role of culture in using urban parks and
acknowledges differences in leisure patterns and recreation activities (Croy and Glover, 2009). Thus
more consideration in terms of ethnic minority groups and their interactions with urban parks is
required to identify different ethnic views of urban parks in Melbourne, and the role of urban parks'
physical environment in responding to these views. More research is needed in this context to
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 860
evaluate and examine these three categories in relation to different ethnic groups and find solutions
for better participation of immigrants in our urban green spaces.
Parks and gardens both represent nature within urban contexts and have a wide range of benefits
for human wellbeing. They contribute to the positive aspects of the life of urban dwellers, both
physically and psychologically. Urban green spaces, ranging from private home gardens to public
parks and botanical gardens, play an important role in the life of immigrants. Understanding how
immigrants perceive their new environments and how they make connections in a new land in the
process of cultural renewal is essential in order to provide a better multicultural society for all
citizens. The combination of physical environment and human complexities in urban milieus, and the
rate of change of these factors, illustrate the important issues of “place and placelessness” of cities
according to Relph (1976), and how social identity can be understood and addressed, in personal
responses to place and in the design of the public realm (Rishbeth and Finney, 2006). Since recent
research in Australia mostly focuses on social activities and cultural practices in urban green spaces
and cultural constructions, the role of design and characteristic of the physical environment in these
spaces needs more investigation.
Main (2008) states, these issues address the needs of some specific cultural groups in a global city,
and indicate the importance of meaningfulness of places to the people who use them. This
meaningfulness of place is often referred to as a “sense of place” by urban planners. This approach
seeks the “meaning” of places in their physical design and by deeper understanding of complex
meanings of place, makes some alterations through urban redevelopment efforts (Main, 2008).
Therefore, it is essential for urban planners and landscape designers to be aware of various place
meanings by different ethnic perspectives and the ways landscapes develop meanings for their users
in global cities. To investigate these meanings it is essential to focus on both concepts of ethnicity
and place. Social and cultural approaches have traditionally viewed that physical sites are places to
which people, groups, and cultures become attached due to their experiences, memories, feelings,
and interactions (Goffman, 1959). Place attachment, in this respect, means a “symbolic relationship
formed by people giving culturally shared emotional/affective meanings to a particular space or
piece of land that provides the basis for the individual’s and the group’s understanding of and
relationship to the environment.” (Low, 1992).
To understand the perception, experience and needs of diverse cultural groups in urban green
spaces, as architects and urban planners we need to know the characteristics of different
communities and focus on a particular community. The concept of “ethnic community” is complex
and includes the notion of “shared identity” on the bases of country of birth, language, ethnicity,
and religion, etc. One of the important means for a group to gain representation and to counter
marginalisation is the community identification and cohesion, and the idea of “cultural landscape”
suggests that nature is a realm which is experienced and produced by people and invested with
cultural values and meanings (Thomas, 2002). This needs to be considered in the design of parks in
multicultural Australian cities, to be open to a wider variety of uses and cultural purposes even for
future immigrants and users; instead of focusing only on the existing cultural groups near a
UHPH_14: Landscapes and ecologies of urban and planning history | 861
According to Downing (2003) one of the primary biological needs in humans is expressing their
selves such as desires, values, and enthusiasm, and their cultures such as language, physical
features, and consciousness of common identity. People have individual memories of places, others,
experiences and events, which with each act of remembrance they are faced with their individuality
and connectedness. Each person also shares the specific constructs of the world with other humans
so, a socially constructed selfhood is the human existence reality. ‘Although each individual image
of place is unique, patterns of recurring domains emerged from this process; the secret place, the
Arcadian place, the ancestral place, the shared place, the alone place, the intimate place, the
gregarious place, places that stretch to meet the horizon line, and places that enclose and protect.
Domains are symbolic of a quality of life; contact, retreat, participation, identity, love, grace,
sensuousness, intelligence, fear, intimacy, growth, expansiveness, reflection, communing, and loss.’
Thus, how are individuals’ selves and cultures expressed in a new place as a result of migration? And
to what extent can a place of origin be emulated in a place of migration? How do different migrants
perceive and use existing public green spaces in Australia? And how might these spaces better
facilitate a variety of immigrant preferences and uses particularly in a multicultural society? A
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