Freiräume in neuen Wohnsiedlungen : Lehren aus der Vergangenheit ; Qualitäten für die Zukunft?

  • Open spaces in new residential projects : lessons from the past ; quality for the future?

Sutter-Schurr, Heidi; Selle, Klaus (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2008)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

In: PT_Materialien 24
Page(s)/Article-Nr.: 345 S. : Ill., graph. Darst.

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2008


Situation and Questions: Against the background of an abundance of literature giving precise criteria for the design of usable open space in residential areas as a result of research about the needs and wishes of residents, the changes in the housing market from a supplier to a customer market and in view of the built reality two central questions arise:1. Which requirements were made for residential green spaces in new projects in the experts’ discussion - taking particular account of the spaces’ social characteristics?2. Will they stand the test of time? These questions are complemented by three further aspects running through the entire paper as a central thread:a) Which types of open spaces are meant? What are their special features, what distinguishes them from each other?b) For whom and for what are the spaces important?c) Which conditions have to be fulfilled in order to make open spaces work, in order to make them meet their objectives? For testing the link between theory and practice a fourth question became necessary: d) On which knowledge do experts base their practical work regarding user requirements for residential green spaces? Which gain general acceptance in practice? Three steps were necessary to find answers:1. Reviewing and analyzing relevant publications to identify criteria and requirements for usable residential open space;2. Studying, analyzing and documenting eleven highstandard examples of recently built housing projects;3. Interviewing experts of planning offices, the housing industry and academia to find out about their perspective on open space quality in residential environments, about their assumptions on user requirements, about the conditions having an influence on the implementation process, about their overall knowledge in the field, and to ask them how scientists should successfully communicate their research findings. Major results: The study reveals that basic requirements like access, security, legibility etc. are still considered important. Other aspects however were seen more controversially. Today experts generally favor a mix of all three categories (private, public, community space) in the residential environments. However, the studied examples only seldom fulfill the request - as theory and reality differ enormously anyway. They are best met in private open spaces. The other green spaces were often so ambiguous that they could neither be classified as public nor - and even less frequently - as community open space. The interviews revealed that the idea of permeable residential space is favored by many practitioners. However, it also became clear that quite often practitioners did not know the structural and spatial prerequisites for generating open space categories clearly legible and distinguishable. In the examples analyzed the category of community open space has been almost completely ignored. Accordingly the interviews revealed that many practitioners attach little importance to this category. However in various periodicals it was mentioned that this is t h e place where communication takes place and where residents can make social contacts. Today experts have different opinions on the necessity of usability and the importance of good neighborly relations: some of them believe that the idea of open communication areas is romantic. Other experts however consider them even as more important. Also critically seen was the question whether the importance of green space is limited to its mere presence (prestigious address, green atmosphere) or whether it needs to allow active use. Despite differing opinions, all experts agreed: 'Take a closer look' - not only to age and sex but by life stages, job situations and social class depending on education and income. Given this knowledge, it is all the more astonishing that the interest of the experts is rather weak in knowing the needs and habits of residents. Although some professionals regard participation processes, customer surveys etc. as inevitable tools, most practitioners, however are rather skeptical or even categorically oppose these tools. When asked about the basis of their planning knowledge most experts answered: experience. Publications dealing with and mentioning user requirements are mostly unknown to practical experts. Instead, they rather combine experience with the knowledge they gained in architecture or planning school about 20 to 30 years ago. In particular the latter fact challenges practitioners and researchers: If planners want to be taken seriously by developers in the future, they will be well-advised not to rely solely on outdated school knowledge, mere assumptions and intuition. Instead they have to be aware and apply the latest research results. This in turn requires researchers to publicize their findings in such a way that they become available in all kinds


  • Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Development [212110]