The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 4 Public open space POS

Open space types

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Park typology and typologies

The physical types of open space presently designed are astonishingly limited: the swimming beach, the roadside picnic area, the woodland with "nature trails", the grassed park dotted with trees and shrubbery, comprise the conventional range. (Lynch 1972: 110)

Great civilisations allocate open space to public and non-productive uses. Historically, this has included gardens, temple compounds, ceremonial grounds, outdoor mark ets, social places, gymnasia for exercise and recreation, burial grounds, hunting and wildlife reserves. All this land is now classified by planners as 'public open space', because the land is accessible and unbuilt. It is a term which ignores the distinction between parks and greenways. Parks are for protection [Fig 4.1]. Greenways are for movement. The reasons for making 'public open space' are multifarious. Lynch, as quoted above, was right to protest that 'the physical types of open space presently designed are astonishingly limited'. 4.1 Parks are for protection. Greenways are for movement. Both types of space can be public and open Parks take their name from the verb 'to impark', which means to surround with a hedge, fence or wall. Greenways, as discussed in the second half of this chapter, have characteristics which are indicated by the two components of the word: the land has environmental quality and it provides a route, for humans, animals or a natural process. Frequently, parks will be patches and greenways will be corridors. If badly located, parks have as little chance of success as stations without railways or railways without stations. The three cardinal principles of property development, location, location and location, apply with additional force to park planning. In the twenty first century, there is little hope for a large municipal park with tawdry facilities designed for the needs of a previous generation. Park development is a specialised aspect of property development. Some parks need to be re-imparked. Others need to be disimparked. The distinction between enclosed and un-enclosed land is of greater consequence that those between: formal and informal recreation; active and passive recreation; urban and rural recreation. The  typology of park types needs:

  • classification
  • diversification
  • regionalization (between and within countries) 
  • imaginative extension