January 19, 2024
Public Outdoor Spaces: Behind the Design of Powerful Parks
Public Space for All
In the evolving realm of public outdoor spaces, communities are seeking more than access; citizens are pursuing the power to shape their surroundings, rectify injustices, and formulate a future that benefits all. As research underscores the positive impact of green, open spaces on physical and psychological well-being, the emphasis on creating such environments intensifies—with the promise of substantial benefits.
See how cities and developers are redefining public spaces to be inclusive, accessible, and diverse:
Urban Parks and Playgrounds
Urban parks and playgrounds are experiencing a transformative shift, as many cities embrace the integration of ecology and habitat restoration with large-scale infrastructure—a concept reminiscent of Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for New York’s Central Park. Beyond this, there is a calling to establish public spaces of refuge, or “third homes” (places beyond home and office), aimed at dismantling cultural and socioeconomic divides.
Explore how urban campuses, from Houston’s Memorial Park Land Bridge and Prairie to Memphis’s Tom Lee Park, are reimagining outdoor spaces for the greater good:
Designing Sustainable Landscapes
While urban landscapes are beneficial to environmental and personal health, you might be surprised to find that they have a significant carbon footprint due to the materials they use. So how do we design landscapes that are sustainable? For one, we can regulate the embodied carbon of future projects to reshape the look and feel of outdoor spaces. For example, we could reconsider the necessity of plazas or take notes from the High Line Network, a group of infrastructure reuse projects. In addition, we can shift our approach regarding soil in our landscapes, focusing on composting to add back nutrients to soil while optimizing it for carbon sequestration.
Learn how we can design sustainable landscapes in the following articles:
The Voices of Landscape Architecture
As landscape architecture continues to evolve to become more sustainable and open-minded, it’s important to recognize that change comes from acknowledging diverse professionals and perspectives from all over the world. For example, we can take notes on designing for resilience and democracy from landscape architect Thomas Balsley, call for a fundamental reimagining of how professional practice is structured with Los Angeles firm Terremoto, and learn about how Black landscapes can be rooted in a sense of place, justice, and historical truth from landscape designer Walter Hood. In addition, we can adopt sustainability lessons from architects like Konjian Yu, whose Sponge City concept increases a city’s resilience to floods by retaining water more efficiently. Not only do these viewpoints bring in unique designs and structures, but also bring in a well-rounded balance towards the industry.
Here, we highlight the voices of landscape architecture in the following articles:
METROPOLIS Outdoor Amenities Resource
When you think about the outdoors, you usually visualize undisturbed nature or beautiful city parks, but amenity spaces like outdoor work areas, gardens and open-air cafes can also be considered the urban outdoors as well. In fact, these outdoor amenities deserve the same attention as large civic projects do because they are just as critical to thriving communities and cities. To explore the idea further, METROPOLIS gathered tools, guides and manuals to help landscape architects, architects and interior designers leverage the holistic benefits of outdoor amenities.
Check Out Metropolis’ Outdoor Amenities Resource in the following articles:
Beyond serving as destinations for rest and retreat, public outdoor parks, playgrounds, and walkways consistently emerge as vibrant epicenters for community and congregation. While prioritizing access remains key in the ideation and reimagination of these spaces, a deeper dive unveils their potential to contribute significantly to the fight against climate change. Public outdoor spaces stand as vital components in the intricate web of urban life, playing a pivotal role in reshaping and revitalizing the future of our cities.
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Other Guides from METROPOLIS
What Architects and Designers Need to Know About Embodied Carbon
From complex topics such as carbon form to advice on how to specify carbon-neutral furniture, METROPOLIS provides a lay of the land for carbon and design.
Embracing Differences: Understanding and Designing for Neurodiversity
When we design for neurodiversity—be it autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder—we design for everyone.
What Is and Is Not Biophilic Design?
If design doesn’t focus on aspects of the natural world that contribute to human health and productivity in the age-old struggle to be fit and survive, it’s not biophilic.