The Landscape Guide

16.18 Cultural parks

Contents list

High Culture differs from Low Culture. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has recognized this eternal truth by establishing a complementary set of Radio Stations, numbered from 1 to 5. Proceeding from pop culture to elite culture, BBC Radios 1, 2 and 4 are in their correct positions. Radio 3 and Radio 5 should switch places, because Radio 3 is a highbrow music station, while Radio 5 is a news and sport station. Using the BBC's present numbering, we could plan five types of outdoor space. Rather than imprinting every corner of every park with a "middle culture', we could find opportunities for the design of spaces that are the visual counterparts of classical music, light music and pop music.

Radio 1 Park: Pop culture

A really popular Pop Park might have the following characteristics: Pop music played to visitors. No higher learning required in order to interpret the visual effects. Bright colours and ephemeral displays a speciality. Venues available for popular sports and popular outdoor activities: five-aside soccer, volley-ball, frisbee throwing, dancing and cook-outs. Advertising space available for hire. Statues of pop, rap and rock musicians -- no political dignitaries allowed. Many areas available for listening to pop music.

Radio 2 Park: Light entertainment

Similar to the Radio 1 park, but with more emphasis on light classical taste and reproductions of well-known works of art.

Radio 3 Park: Highbrow culture

No broadcast music, but personal stereos allowed. Beautifully managed natural habitats available for all to see and to photograph. Well-placed seats, with good microclimate, for sitting and reading. Original sculptures of classical musicians and artists on display. High-quality long-life materials used for walls and paving.

Radio 4 Park: Magazine features

Demonstration gardens with celebrity planting designs. Examples of different styles of garden design. Text panels explaining what there is to be seen. Some garden areas with broadcast music. Speakers' corners. Performances at the weekend. Statues of cultural heroes and novelists.

Radio 5 Park: News and sport

A sports park. Remembering that vastly more people like to watch sport than participate, this type of park would have comfortable accommodation for spectators to watch non-professionals. There would be cafes, bars and sheltered seats in the sun and shade. Statues of sporting heroes, especially those from the locality.


Clothes can be self-coloured or multi-coloured. They can have rich patterns, harmonies and contrasts. A black coat with a white scarf can be worn over a romantically patterned dress. It is the same with parks. Colours, shapes, moods and patterns can be overlaid, provided it is done with a sense of style. The BBC does not mix classical music with pop music on a radio station, though some people like both. But their visual equivalents can be mixed in parks. I can imagine a park that, like beautiful scenery, has different layers of appeal for the various cultural strata and special interest groups. It would be an overlay landscape.