Goodbye park, welcome landscape; reconsidering recreational areas in urban regions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Policy and planning strategies on recreation areas in the Netherlands have been dominated by quantitative arguments for decades. It is true that sufficient recreation facilities lack in some regions, but there is also an appalling lack of quality in existing recreation areas. Many areas are mono-functional greenbelts with recreational facilities that are hardly discernable from other areas; they look worn out and have no identity. At the same time, studies show that people prefer the countryside to constructed recreation parks and that their appreciation of constructed recreation areas is declining. In this paper I will argue that the major issue is not quantitative but qualitative and that – since space is scarce in highly populated areas like the Netherlands –the focus must be on restructuring existing areas instead of creating more areas with identical problems. Restructuring existing recreation areas requires a different approach. Old images and procedures won’t work anymore. The new questions require clear perspectives, flexibility, sensibility and size-fit solutions, as some successful examples show. First, a clear idea of the meaning of recreation areas and their mutual relation is the basis for future redevelopment. Second, a contemporary and diverse program of recreational facilities is necessary, but not enough. It turns out that inadequate spatial organization and inconsistent images are often the major cause of decreasing attractiveness. Third, many recreation areas in the urban periphery are in fact just expanded city parks and are simply too large to be a successful park. Redevelopment must be based on a concentration of park functions and the creation of new, contemporary landscapes that provide an attractive environment for man, flora and fauna; and produce clean water, clean air, energy and food. Thus we can create more sustainable landscapes and cities. A similar approach counts for areas that do require more green recreational facilities; adding recreational facilities to existing agricultural landscapes is more appropriate than replacing these landscapes with constructed recreation parks. Good accessibility and a clear identity are major prerequisites. And, last but not least, the involvement and cooperation of local stakeholders and communities is essential to create sustainable, living landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Power of Landscape; ECLAS 2012, Warsaw, Poland, 19 - 22 September, 2012
EditorsI. Dr Dymitryszyn, M. Dr Kaczynska, G. Dr Maksymiuk
Place of PublicationWarsaw
PublisherWarsaw University of Life Sciences-SSGW
ISBN (Print)9788393588404
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventThe Power of Landscape; ECLAS 2012, Warsaw, Poland -
Duration: 19 Sep 201222 Sep 2012


ConferenceThe Power of Landscape; ECLAS 2012, Warsaw, Poland

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