Public Realm: Urban Park Strategies

Karissa A

Philadelphia Navy Yards - Central Green - exterior   View this Photo

The modern urban park is not only considered a focal point of a neighborhood, but also a node for social interaction of the public realm - the residents and visitors of the community. Such design strategies would include principles of open spaces and recreation, children's play areas, plazas and street connectivity, pedestrian pathways, bicycle networks and connectivity, transit and parking.

Open Spaces and Recreation - To provide easy transition between buildings and the park, design open spaces as an innate part of a large-scale development. This large-scale development can vary from the mix of infrastructure uses such as residential, schools, offices, cultural spaces, retail stores and leisure facilities. A ten-minute walking distance from the large urban park or its pocket spaces should be considered when designing one. To promote holistic health, office spaces are encouraged to be linked with the walking paths of a park.

Children's Play Areas - For the safety of a child, inclusion of ground markings for the dedicated areas for playground and sports are indicated. The groundcover of a children's play area should be covered with turf so as to serve as a soft cushion for unforeseen accidents. Lighting fixtures or bollards on sidewalks should be placed to induce physical activity even during night time.

Plazas and Street Connectivity - Location of a plaza is a prime design factor when designing an urban park. Transit stops, pedestrian streets, and bicycle networks should all be located at certain points of the park to promote accessibility and walkability. The connection between the interior park and the exterior road should be visually seen with curved paths inducing movement rather than static, linear lines. Also, minimal contact between cars and pedestrians should be introduced so as to promote urban design principles such as safety and legibility.

Pedestrian Pathways - Tree-lined streets and lush bushes serve as a buffer for the pedestrians from the moving vehicles of the street. Provision of seating, street furniture, restrooms and drinking fountains are critical in the design success of an urban park as they support increased walking of the users. Moreover, a visually appealing view such as a public art, an architectural landmark or a charming landscape design can serve as an influential orientation for the users. Not leaving behind the inclusion for the disabled, paths should be smooth, sufficiently wide and adequate for the turning radius of the wheelchairs.

Bicycle Networks and Connectivity - The interconnection link and separation of areas between the bicycles and transit should be clearly stipulated to avoid visibility issues and turning conflicts. Specific crossings and signals for the bicycle network should be placed to avoid accidents between the walking users and the cyclists.

Transit and Parking - Cars exhibiting emissions are usually inhibited to maintain the clean and green environment of a park. On a sprawled development, vehicles on a parking area are situated at a reasonable distance to influence walkability. Transit-oriented developments with rail transportation have a walking distance of at least 600-meter radius.

What other urban design strategies have you applied in the public realm? Share yours by commenting below!

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