Abstracts (Day 3)

Workshop programme
Abstracts (Day 2)
Logistical and sociable advice

Taylor: Green Space Issues in a European Comparative Perspective- Berlin, Dublin, Marseille and Turin
Brantz: Berlin’s Green Spaces and the Question of Seasonality from 1945 to the Present
Brennan: Changes in Dublin’s Green space during the Celtic Tiger years
Engler: Researches on green spaces in Germany – Methodological approaches of the Department for Historical Research of the IRS Erkner
Harrison: The New Town of Milton Keynes: an example of planning green space in Motor Age Britain

Green Space Issues in a European Comparative Perspective- Berlin, Dublin, Marseille and Turin

Andrew Taylor
University of Helsinki

This study reviews comparative material for the 2011 and 2012 KatuMetro funded analysis of green space in the Helsinki metropolitan area in four major European cities. The structure follows the main themes of the 2012 project: namely, the classification of green space, the green space provided by private domestic gardens and immigrant opinions and use of green space. In each section the approach, results, conclusions and arguments of relevant green space studies in each city will be presented. The conclusions of the report will help to form comment on what evidence there is of a European wide green space movement. The information presented was collected via direct contact with researchers and city officials in each city, and through indirect methods, including web and research database keyword searches, and from the reference lists of relevant articles.

Preliminary findings show a contrast between green space amount, definition, function and use, especially between the more northern European cities compared to the more southern European cities. There appears to be a strong urban green space movement in Berlin and Dublin, like in Helsinki, meanwhile there is less of an obvious movement in Marseille and Turin. It seems that a number of historical, cultural, political and environmental factors might explain the differences. Nevertheless, Marseilles has the most green space per unit area and inhabitant, Dublin is next, followed by Berlin and Turin respectively. However, deviations in definition and metropolitan area might explain some differences. The more obvious green space movement in Berlin and Dublin means that there is more information regarding immigrants and private domestic gardens, although these particular subjects perhaps remain a niche subject area. Private domestic gardens seem to be most valued by researchers and local authorities in Dublin. There is a wealth of evidence that a European wide green space movement exists.

Berlin’s Green Spaces and the Question of Seasonality from 1945 to the Present

Dorothee Brantz
Center for Metropolitan Studies

Why do seasons matter for the history of urban green spaces? How do they help us to understand the impact of green spaces on urban living? Using the city of Berlin as a case study, this presentation highlights the post 1945 history of this city’s green spaces to evaluate the conceptual significance of seasonal changes. The first part of the paper offers a brief overview of three distinct aspects that shaped the development of Berlin’s green spaces in the postwar era – the war, the division of the city, and West-Berlin’s special position as an island biotope.  This history raises many questions with regard to how we study urban green spaces, some of which the second part of the presentation seeks to address. After briefly looking at the conceptual linkages between historical contingency and political circumstances as well as the socio-cultural factors that are tied to the use of green spaces, the presentation will turn to the specific question of temporality and here mainly seasonal variations.  Since this is a new research project, my comments are exploratory rather than definitive. I hope to raise a number of issues that are relevant for our discussion about the historical and contemporary use of urban green spaces from a comparative perspective.

Changes in Dublin’s Green space during the Celtic Tiger years

Michael Brennan
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin

The well documented property boom experienced by Ireland in the 1990s and mid-2000s resulted in large scale land use change in and around Dublin city. Between 1990 and 2006 the artificial surface cover around Dublin city increased from 2631ha in 1990 to 3848ha in 2006. With the expansion of the city the quantity and quality of the urban green space (UGS) has changed. UGS provides many functions within a city, ranging from the biotic (habitat provision, corridors of dispersal, reservoir populations) to the abiotic (storm water control, carbon sequestration, temperature regulation, increased property values) thus tracking changes UGS is an important component of city planning. In this paper we track these changes through time using two land cover datasets of differing resolutions. Our results illustrate the effect of dataset resolution on estimates of UGS change and the importance of appropriate dataset choice when examining changes in UGS. Using the finer resolution we explore the spatially asymmetrical changes in UGS over the time period. Finally, using a third land over dataset, we estimate the contribution of residential garden space to the UGS stock in one area of Dublin city.

Researches on green spaces in Germany – Methodological approaches of the Department for Historical Research of the IRS Erkner

Harald Engler
Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning

With this paper the research on green space planning will be presented as they are operated as a part of space design in Germany in the “Department for Historical Research” of the IRS in Erkner (near Berlin). This historical research center was established this year as a separate department in the institute which engages itself in social science-based spatial research. In general the new historical department deals with planning cultures and the history of urbanization in the 20th century with a focus on the history of construction and architecture of the GDR. The research on urban green space in Germany is part of the historical research for the design of public open spaces in a so-called lead project (duration: 3 years) with the title “open space design in East-West German comparison: urbanization strategies between authority and the public realm”. Open (green) spaces fulfill three main functions:

  • They help safeguard the quality of life and environment in cities and towns
  • serve as places for state representation and control
  • constitute a field of societal communication.

The question how to design (especially inner-urban) open spaces frequently provokes substantial conflicts of interests and visions. In everyday situations as well as in phases of political mobilization especially the appropriation of urban public spaces has often served as a catalyst for participation demands and in this way has become a mirror of societal change. Our questions centre on four clusters of problems, which are grouped around the key notions of

  • urbanization strategies
  • planning personalities and networks
  • authority and the public realm
  • appropriation by the residents.

In this sense beside analysis of the planning, design and appropriation of urban (green) space the research activities aim to contribute to a broader social history of the GDR.

The New Town of Milton Keynes: an example of planning green space in Motor Age Britain

Richard Harrison

The central concern of my work is traffic planning, rather than planning for green space. I am examining planning responses to motorization in two medium-sized British cities in the 1960s: Leicester and Milton Keynes. I hope that my paper, which concentrates on the latter settlement, will demonstrate that the subject of my study has a stronger relationship with urban green-space than a casual observer might conclude.

The New Town of Milton Keynes was planned between 1967 and 1970 to take full advantage of the mobility offered by the motor car. To attract people and investment to the new city, the chief planning consultants’ strategy was to offer residents freedom of choice, wherever possible, in such things as work, leisure, and transport. This last item was centrally important: an early decision was made to create a road system and urban structure that would allow for the anticipated high demand for personal motor transport, and also to use the flexibility offered by the motor car as the main tool by which residents would exercise their freedom of choice. It was through the car that the majority of the residents were expected to gain access to a wide variety of venues (including green spaces) for leisure activities, shopping, entertainment, and employment, which would be dispersed around the city.

A grid system of primary roads were planned to maximize accessibility by car, which was to be carefully adapted to the lie of the land. The planners’ concern for the city’s topographical and natural setting also extended to the reservation of appropriate areas of green space and the retention of ancient woodland. This would allow development to exploit landscape ‘views’ and to meet residents’ requirements for ‘fresh air …seclusion …space, quiet and solitude’. Milton Keynes would be endowed with three ‘linear parks’, five golf courses, and three areas of established woodland. In addition to recreation, green spaces provided sites for nature conservation and numerous cycle-, pedestrian-, and bridle-ways. They were also employed as tree-lined buffers between the primary roads and residential areas.

Few (if any) aspects of urban planning can be considered in isolation, or be expected to leave other aspects entirely unaffected.

Green space and transport in Milton Keynes certainly came together in various ways, not least in the planners’ concern for the urban environment. A key question of my research is: ‘What was the relationship between traffic management and the urban environment as this emerged in both theoretical and policy form during the 1960s?’ Another question might be posed by substituting ‘traffic management’ for ‘green space provision’ with the promise of enlightening results.