Does greenspace have a value?


Werner Stiegler, arguing for more public green space in Florida, said “One needs to look no further than real estate ads to see that the demand for greenery is strong. It is common for ads to reference proximity to parks, and the value of greenery is often reflected in the price of properties close to green spaces.”   Why should this be so? What is it about images of nature that so captivates us? Why do we seek recreation as an ‘escape’ from the city to ‘nature’?  

Riding Mountain National Park in Canada forms part of the UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. It “offers opportunities to study agricultural land uses and changes in relation to natural process ecosystems.” Use of land for agriculture is often the first stage of the alienation of land from its ‘wilderness’ state. As such it has much to tell us about our implicit and explicit valuation of  land, apart from its scenic or existence value. Image courtesy Riding Mountain National Park Canada

6 thoughts on “Does greenspace have a value?

  1. Tom Turner

    Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, following Carl Gustav Jung, believed that the human subconscious retains memories of the wild landscapes through which our ancestors roamed. When remembering the complicated behaviour patterns inherited by animals, it seems very plausible to me that humans also inherit a great many memories, including responses to landscapes and architecture. The trouble is we do so much education we are unable to observe patterns in uneducated humans and therefore do not know what is inherited.

  2. Christine

    I am not sure I am convinced by Christopher Alexander. Unless it is possible for someone to introduce me to the ‘poetry’ in his work I find it all dreary and uninspiring….[In some ways it is a little like planning performance criteria – not aimed at good design, but rather at preventing bad design!]

    However, I do think much of the contributions of Piaget,Jung and Chomsky. And I think that there are a wealth of untapped or unrealised lessons that are available from Gestalt Psychology. In some ways it is foundational in my research into iconic buildings. Iconic buildings seem to have very strong gestalt images. These gestalts are often discernable in the architect’s concept sketches.

    Perhaps this is also so with landscape? It is not something that I have considered until now…Can you think of a famous landscape design and of the concept sketch of its designer? It would be interesting to look at this to see if it holds true for landscape architecture also!

  3. Christine

    p.s Here is a clip on Walter Burley Griffin.[] It is not accurate to say that he had only worked on garden designs prior to the commission for Canberra(see reference following.)
    Here are the plans of his winning competiton entry. [] There are some interesting observations on the pattern of urban plans on the City of Sound blog dated April 21 2007. []

    And while you are at this site check out the Alvar Aalto exhibition ‘Alvar Aalto through the eyes of Shigeru Ban’. Shigeru Ban is known as an ‘ecological architect’. Shigeru comments on his research into Aalto’s designs and what he believes to be Aalto’s use of the golden section, recurring patterns, angles and geometric forms. (It is worth looking at the full set of photographs).

  4. Tom Turner

    I enjoyed the Walter Burley Griffin video – and did not know he had cut his teeth on garden design. I see garden design as a crucible for urban design. Both involve the composition of landform, water, vegetation, paving and structures – and it is far easier to have relevant learning experience in gardens than in urban design!

  5. christine

    I found mention of the work of the Japanese moral philosopher Tetsuro Watsuji. In his text ‘Fudo'(wind and earth…the natural environment of a given land) he puts forward the philosophy that we are all inescapably shaped by our relationship with the land.

    The land effects us with its geography, topography, climate, weather patterns, temperature, humidity, soils, oceans, flora and fauna.

    In turn our cultural response in terms of styles of living, related artifacts, architecture, food choices and clothing are all conditioned by this relationship.

  6. Tom Turner

    The psychologists’ debate about whether heredity or environment is the stronger influence on character (‘Nature vs Nurture’) parallels the debate about whether Geography or History is the stronger influence on a nation’s character. I see some parallels between the Japanese Isles and the British Isles. Because they are both large groups of islands near a great continent they have got into the habit of learning from their neighbours while fiercely maintaining their independence. But the different climates of the two archepelagos has surely been an influence on the character of their gardens. The subject merits a lot of investigation and consideration!


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