Design of Urban Public Spaces: Intent Vs. Reality
Hjort, M; Martin, WM; Stewart, T; Troelsen, J
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This study investigated how two public spaces for sport and recreation were utilized by different user groups, and how this aligned with the initial design objectives for these spaces. Two newly built urban spaces situated in Copenhagen, Denmark, provided the context for this investigation. The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) was used to examine the physical activity of users in these two urban spaces. The architects responsible for designing each space were interviewed to ascertain the intended target group of each space and to unravel the reasons behind the design decisions. The SOPARC observations revealed that males were more vigorously active than females when using the recreation facilities, and the observed users did not align with the intended target groups. The interviews suggested that design decisions were based on minimal interdisciplinary knowledge, and that expert knowledge was chosen randomly. These findings point to a systematic lack of evidence-based practice when designing sport and recreational facilities. This article has implications for landscape architects and urban planners; a new method must be developed to embed interdisciplinary knowledge in the planning process of future sport and recreation projects. This must be done in a systematic way to make the design process transparent.