Research on the Effectiveness of Open Space Design

Research on the Effectiveness of Open Space Design

Research Approach

Urban open spaces play an important role in everyday life. The design decisions made by landscape architects affect the living environment of many people. Funded by taxpayer’s money, we design public spaces on behalf of the public sector, but there is usually no oversight to ensure that the design meets the needs of the public. Is it effective? What benefits and services does the design provide to the local community? What mistakes may have been made that should not be repeated elsewhere?

Studying the effectiveness of open space design means looking at the relationship between the design promise and the reality, i.e. which aspects are important in the everyday life of the local community after years of use. The goal is to learn lessons from completed projects.

This type of research exists in many applied disciplines and social fields, such as politics, economics, social work and education. In terms of landscape architecture, it is considered as critical design research. In the tradition of studies on the sociology of open spaces, researchers are interested in the general principles that make open spaces successful in everyday life and that go beyond the individual case.

In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of a project, researchers put different narratives about the open space in relation to each other: the project goals (call for tender), the design promise (explanation of the design, publications by the planning office), the design affirmation by the professional community (jury records), how the open space is perceived and used by the public after several years, the experiences of the parks and open space maintenance department, and the perceptions of the media. These views will be collected using methods of empirical social research.


Related publications:

Constanze A. Petrow (2018): Vom Entwurfsversprechen zum städtischen Freiraum als Alltagsort. Konzept für eine empirische Wirkungsforschung in der Landschaftsarchitektur. In: Ammon, Sabine; Baumberger, Christoph; Neubert, Christine; Petrow, Constanze A. (Hrsg.): Architektur im Gebrauch. TU Berlin,, S. 214-231

Arnulfpark Munich; Picture: Prof. Dr. Constanze A. Petrow
Bahndeckel Munich; Picture: Prof. Dr. Constanze A. Petrow
Oerliker Park Zurich; Picture: Prof. Dr. Constanze A. Petrow