research scenarios: You work for a landscape architecture firm that was hired to help build a new Elementary
Public School in London, ON. As part of the preliminary research process, you ve been given the task of
discovering the best landscape design that would enrich learning and create an environmentally friendly, safe
outdoor space for children ages 4 13. What would you recommend ( with a Memo and outline)
RESEARCH REPORT ON PARKS IN URBAN NEIGHBOURHOODS
In response to your request, attached, please find my research report on the benefits of parks in urban communities and the importance of media advertising in raising public awareness.
Our firm has been selected to re-design and expand a public park in the middle of downtown London, between Kenwood St., Oakdale Rd., Sprucewood Dr., and Lambeth Blvd. This research report analyzes the benefits that come from having a park in urban community centres. The benefits consist of allowing for more people adults and children alike to achieve a more physical lifestyle. Another benefit that parks have to community is that they allow for greenhouse gases to be absorbed by the plants and turned into oxygen. This will, in time, enhance the air quality and make the planet cleaner. Parks also encourage more and more people to walk or bike to work and to observe nature s beauty.
However, at this point in industrialized society, parks do not have optimal attendance before and after they have be renovated; this is due to the lack of promotion. The lack of promotion comes from the park s inability to earn revenue and produce a profit.
Based on this research study, I recommend creating more connectivity between the park and the rest of the city; I also recommend setting aside a certain budget for media promotion and for advertising in order to raise awareness about the park while it is being rebuilt. Specific guidelines are provided in the Recommendations section of the report.
The Benefits of Community Parks: An Analysis of Health and Culture
Since the end of the Second World War, communities have been built around the vehicle and the highway system. This has exacerbated the pandemic of urban sprawl. Due to the reliance on automobiles, people now have less activity in their lives, causing them to become overweight.
Moreover, the reliance on vehicles has increased air pollution and destroyed the natural environment by paving over farmland and natural spaces. As a further result, there is no vegetation to absorb the toxic fumes.
Figure 1: A deserted park with no kids playing on the structures.
The way to combat all of these problems is to build and redesign parks so that they appeal to the general population. The ways in which parks will combat the problems outlined above will be covered in the following sections. Moreover, the ways in which parks can change today s industrialized and mechanized urban centres will be presented by highlighting the benefits of integrated natural spaces. Ultimately, successful parks promote healthier lifestyles, reduce urban pollution, and maximize the inter-connectivity of the city.
Healthy Lifestyles=Outdoor Activity
One of the benefits that comes from the addition of open space is that it promotes activity and, in part, weight loss. Weight gain is a pandemic that is flagging lots of communities and neighborhoods worldwide. Canada and USA are two of world leaders in obesity; a way to combat this problem is to build parks and open spaces to allow for people to enjoy the outdoors. With people enjoying the outdoors, they will begin to lose weight and feel better about themselves, raising their self-esteem in the process.
Children have it the hardest when it comes to physical activity. Due to the decreased numbers of parks, children are suffering from a sedentary lifestyle observable in palliative care patients. As hyperbolic as that might sound, children are in need of parks more than adults because, in essence, children are biologically oriented to want to burn calories and get exercise. Playing in a park with friends allows for them to burn calories and fat without being conscious of the exercise component of play. Adults will also be more open to activity if provided the infrastructure walking on trails, taking in the scenery instead of going to gym where they also have to pay a sizable amount of money to get exercise. A study in that was conducted in the USA showed that the proximity of the park areas to homes such as spaces that included nature trails and bicycle paths was associated with higher levels of physical activities among young children (Association, 2011, p. 29).
Figure 2: A child breaking a scale because he is too heavy for the scale to support.
Because of the lack of parks in the areas where young children are located, these children prefer to stay inside and play video games. Children do not see the outdoors as something that has to be maintained or taken care of; they see it as a piece of land that they can play on. Cars and trucks do not allow such play to happen; however, due to the paving of roads, parks have become an afterthought for cities and communities because they do not provide any income and they take up space that could be used for other buildings or for other purposes. This is why more city dwellers are getting less exercise. A further US study explains that 49% of boys aged 6-11 meet [the level of sixty minutes of vigorous activity 5 days out of the week], but by age 12-15 only 13% report adequate levels of physical activity (Perry K., Saelens E., & Thompson, 2010, p. 389).
Adults, however, do have a choice and need more motivation to exercise and become healthy. Driving a car to work and back (commuting long distances) is a very mentally taxing activity; it leaves very little energy that the person can then use to exercise. By building parks and paths, adults would be able to get exercise by walking or biking the trails to work. Walking on the trails would also allow them to appreciate nature. Studies done in the USA have shown that having trails close to where people live is associated with higher levels of trail use among adults (Association, 2011, p. 29), promoting more physical activities. Adults then become healthier and push their children to get outside and also have fun because the adults now understand how important it is for the child to be active outdoors.
Figure 3: An overweight couple exercising by walking on the trails.
Placing parks in neighborhoods where the age demographic is very low and where young couples live with children of their own would reduce weight problems in children. They would begin life by having a decent understanding that by playing in the park they are bettering their health. Having those children grow up healthy and happy by playing outdoors, when they have children of their own, will also be able to instil the other spinoff benefits of natural environments. The cycle will then continue, and a new generation of individuals will pass these lessons on to their children.
However, parks will not cure the millions of people who are classified as overweight. Yet parks could allow for people to begin in the right direction in eating and exercising regularly and becoming healthy on their own.
Greener Spaces = Less Pollution
Due to the increase in cars and the convenience of the automobile, potential space for parks have been paved to be used as roads. Roads and highway systems after the end of the Second World War appeared everywhere across the USA and Canada. The automobile allowed for people to get from point A to point B whenever they wanted, instead of having to wait for a bus or a train.
This, however, made the need for roads a necessity. Roads were constricted in every direction, taking up farmland and park space, and even moving neighborhoods to accommodate for roads. The increase in roads in turn increased traffic flow (the bigger the road, the more people who will use it). The traffic produces air pollution and noise pollution, and degrades the quality of life of urban dwellers.
Figure 4: Congested traffic causing pollution by standing still and not moving.
With the creation of parks, though, the air pollution will be absorbed into the leaves of the trees and converted into oxygen. This allows the earth to be cleaner because there are more trees and plants to take care of the carbon dioxide that is expelled from the cars (and people). Enough parks and plants will slow the process of global warming and could, one day, mitigate the effects of global warming. The people would then be able to deal with other big issues such as desertification, world hunger, and economic issues, instead of global warming.
The number of people who would be enjoying the parks and trails would be a little impact to the amount of carbon that is produced from the cars; however, it only takes one person to change the way something is done, and parks alone can t, by themselves, reduce the amount of cars that are on the road, running errands or going to work. But by building parks, it will allow for people to see that nature is better visually and is better physically for their health. People will begin to change parks are built. Parks can start a movement that is about the environment and the state of the earth instead of the original parks movement of protecting land. The Parks Movement in 1972 started due to the rapid expansion of road networks with no consideration of open space in or around the cities.
An example of building more parks to encourage less driving is Central Park in New York City, New York. This is an example of building a park not only for aesthetics and beauty but also to encourage walking or biking to work. New York City is a very loud and busy urban centre with sidewalks and streets congested with people and cars. Instead of having to brave the sidewalks and the crosswalks, citizens can instead walk through the peaceful park on their way to work and not get to work mentally exhausted from the commute. Although this drastic of a change to city planning cannot be implemented in established cities like Toronto or Vancouver, a facsimile of this design could be envisioned. Smaller parks and open-space areas for people to walk through, or to sit and enjoy their lunch, will be a welcome reprieve from city traffic. This is the idea of parks: allowing people to get away from their lives and relax in a natural area.
Figure 5: Central Park in New York, New York. A park in the middle of the city.
Interconnectivity = User-Friendly Parks
The above to points and benefits of parks can only happen with a viable engineering plan. Parks must be built in urban spaces and they must accommodate for their age demographics. However, even when parks and trails are redesigned, studies show that their attendance and use only increase by 0.6 percent once the parks have been renovated (Mowen J., Hickerson D., & Kaczynski T., 2013). For this reason, parks and trails must also be redesigned in order to allow for more connectivity. That way, pedestrians can use trails to work by taking short cuts through the city.
Parks need to be in area that is accessible to everyone in the neighborhood that the park is situated. This needs to happen because human beings run on efficiency. Everything must be efficient or people will not use it. If a park is driving distance away from a neighborhood that it is supposed to serve, then the people in the neighborhood will not use the park. Parks need to be originally designed in urban centres to allow the greatest number of attendance possible. However, for parks that are already situated outside of urban areas, there are other things that the park must do to increase attendance after being redesigned or even planned.
Figure 6: Before and after pictures of Cedar Creek picnic pavilion.
An example of a park gaining very little attendance after a renovation can be seen with Cedar Creek in the USA. The Cedar Creek Park underwent renovations due to the lack of playground equipment for children to use:
Cedar Creek remained open to visitors throughout the renovation period, and most renovations were completed by October 2010. The marketing and promotion throughout the park agency system changed minimally, except that the Cedar Creek renovations were highlighted in the agency’s annual program guide (Adventure Allentown) and on the agency’s website and Facebook page. A public meeting was held in the months preceding the grand opening to update city residents on the renovation progress and to provide a forum for citizen concerns and questions. (Mowen J., Hickerson D., & Kaczynski T., 2013)
Due to the lack of advertising, Cedar Creek gained very little attendance. Parks, in order to be successful, must be properly advertised and promoted; parks do not make money and there is no economic value, which means that it is up to the public to give the park cultural value. People will provide value to the park, and this can only happen through sustained use.
To increase park usage, connectivity between different parts of the city must be pro. The following recommendations would encourage more community members to use the park:
1. At least six different trails (each including a pedestrian lane and a bike lane) should start from the centre of the park and lead to various edges of the city: N, E, S, W, NE, SW.
2. Each trail should be connected to all others through secondary trails (or bridges) that cut through the main ones.
3. The centre of the park should include at least 2 playgrounds, one for each age group: infant-5 year old and 6 + years old.
4. Each playground should include age-appropriate opportunities for climbing, sliding, swinging, hanging (on monkey bars), and enjoying a splash pad (or waddling) for hot days in the summer.
While the park is being rebuilt, there must be more media coverage to increase the park s popularity and improve attendance. The redesign of a park must be public knowledge to intrigue the public and get them involved.
For this reason, I recommend setting aside a budget for a media campaign. We can hire a marketing company on a contract basis to work on the public awareness campaign as the park is being built.
If the above recommendations for both renovating and advertising this park are implemented, the park will survive and continue to benefit congested cities and their inhabitants. Simply put, parks allow the people to get necessary exercise and aid in the reduction and stoppage of global climate change. Parks are an aspect of community planning that is currently realizing its importance as a nucleus for urban life.
Association, N. R. (2011). Data Mine: Three projects that advance parks and recreation. Parks & Recreation, 27-29. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer sid=716bf2e8-f776-475a-89f0-b0ffd91d33b9%40sessionmgr4006&vid=2&hid=4202
Mowen J., A., Hickerson D., B., & Kaczynski T., A. (2013). Beyond the Ribbon Cutting: Evaluating the Behavioral and Experiential Impacts of a Neighborhood Park Renovation. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 57-77. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer sid=b7416904-7cfc-4705-875d-d2fed697b3ed%40sessionmgr4010&vid=4&hid=4202
Perry K., C., Saelens E., B., & Thompson, B. (2010). Rural Lantino Youth Park Yse: Characteristics, Park Amenities, and Physical Activity. Community Health, 389-397. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10900-010-9320-z