The Thesis “In What Way Urban
The thesis “In what way urban green spaces affect architecture and human lives” will explore how green spaces are used in the urban environment, considering in which way they manifest themselves and will also consider issues related to public health such as how people use and react to those spaces.
The definition of “green spaces” is vague. The connotation “green” stands for a non-built open space represented by parks, gardens, squares.. Green spaces are either areas that survived in the dense city or in form of a leisure open area, tailored according to the “spirit of the times”, taste and needs. (Mambretti, 2011) Over the years urbanisation has increased but this led to a gradual disappearance of green spaces. (Uffelen, 2013) In past times, cities were surrounded by walls and nature was left outside of it. Green spaces have been reintroduced later in the years but generally, even in the modern city, they remain limited. Initially green areas were mainly for private enjoyment and were mostly found in the courtyards of palaces and cloister buildings. Landscape design has become a real area of expertise by the 19th Century and that is an area that remains important and much-loved component of urban cities even today. (Uffelen, 2013) Studies have shown and documented that more than half of the global population lives in cities and the number is likely to increase more and more. (Mambretti, 2011)The dynamic process of urbanisation has led to a distinction between two distinct spaces: grey space and green space, which can be explained as further: (Bentley, 2015)
Green is considered as a new way of designing urban environment (Belfiore, 2005) and it is manifested in different ways. The most influent form is the park that plays a huge role in cities as it affects both architecture and human behaviour. Now is the time for cities to take a bold action and increase green spaces. It is recognised that plant life and new public spaces are vital for global cities. Green infrastructure and new forms of urban living provide benefits for its inhabitants such as clean air and water, life is massively improved even just allowing the connection between people and nature. (Braiterman, 2011) Also, it is proven that cities with a lot of green spaces hold an advantage in the global economy. Urban inhabitants feel the necessity of nature in their lives and it more and more reintegrated in the urban environment including trees, flowers, wildlife, clean water and sometimes agriculture. (Braiterman, 2011) The aim is making cities more livable for people and green spaces can have a huge impact on residents’ everyday lives. Research have demonstrated a positive association between urban greenness and human health. Health, in fact, is created and lived by people within the settings their everyday lives. (Bentley, 2015) Open green spaces in every form are vital for the quality of life of the gradually more urbanised society and urban environment. (Mambretti,2011)
Parks in cities are often historical sites that have survived the urban development. Usually, they are forms of palimpsests, a stratification of many interventions with intrinsic cultural values.(Dicaire Fardin, 1992) Green spaces with this asset usually also have associations with significant historical people or events. For this reason, parks are considered cultural resources whose historic value derives from its witness to many periods in history and it will be respected throughout the evolution of the parks. The assessment criteria developed to evaluate the cultural value of green areas deal with three fundamental aspects: aesthetic interest, historical interest and environmental interest. (Dicaire Fardin, 1992)
Over the last 25 years, anthropologists have expanded their interest from local social lives to a larger scale process. New areas such as ethnography and environmentalism have been explored in order to fully understand the relationship between people and their surroundings. (West, Igoe and Brockington, 2006) Green spaces, parks and gardens,in particular, have become spaces in which people see, understand, experience and use the site as they like. It does not only affect users but also the people who are working in and for the maintenance of green areas. Green spaces, in fact, are a great opportunity for well-being as they help to create many workplaces within them. (Greenhalgh, Worpole, 1996)
For more than a century, the local governments held the custody of pubic space, in recent years though the management of green urban sites is reserved to local authorities. Park management has been affected by changes in urban development and by different patterns of human living. Park managers have also the task of resolving problems and conflicts regarding how space should be used without nicking user’s freedom and safety. (Greenhalgh, Worpole, 1996) Green areas have a huge impact on residents as they provide tranquillity in the chaos of the city, but they are also very contested and disputes arise. Cities are a highly contested and intricate environment. Every potential park is in competition with many other uses, most of which concern cost-benefits and profit-motive. Parks add value to neighbourhoods but also vice versa. (Harnik, 2010)
London is now a global city and it has been a centre of innovation for centuries. It has been the subject of a rapid expansion in the first half of the nineteenth century as its trade prospered and by the middle of the century 2,3 million people were living in its built-up areas. (Daley, Benjamin,1964) At least up to the Second World War, the city was one of the most fertile and innovative cities in terms of generating green spaces ideas that were then spread across Northern Europe. (Clark, 2016) as open spaces, London depended mainly on the Royal Parks, squares and common gardens which were provided by the government. Urban Parks have been of vital importance in the past, they functioned as events locations as it happened for the ‘’Great Exhibition in Victorian times that took place in Hyde Park, or as strategic and helping point during the First and Second World War. Parkland is an extremely versatile space as it can meet everyone’s needs and have a different meaning for each one of us. Nowadays, urbanisation is highly increasing and the built-up environment accommodates 8,674 million people.
It is not usual to find so many green spaces, especially parks, in a city in massive expansion like London so they can be considered one of the main features of the city. Furthermore, London is a city that has grown over the years a great respect and care for their green lands and should be an example for many other European cities.