Vestre is joining Park(ing) Day this Friday! An initiative addressing the need for more urban green space in the cities. As ASLA NY says: “Park where you park”…
For those of you who don’t yet know what PARK(ing) Day represents, it is a one-day claim to regain some of the urban territory based on a simple premise: “Citizen Activists around the globe turn parking spaces into mini-parks for a day to demonstrate the need for more urban green space. The annual event is organised online, but staged offline in dozens of cities on every continent around the world. It’s a demonstration of the power of social media and international collaborative activism… and a great way to have fun and relax.”
At Vestre we share many of the same concerns protested against on this day. Our cities are rapidly becoming denser, and the fact of the matter is that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. This puts some drastic pressure on both the physical and the psychological planes.
The most visible is of course the physical infrastructure and the built environment. In order to accommodate so many people we need to build higher, denser and unfortunately also wider. Leaving us with block upon block of concrete which seldom leaves any space for the necessary connection with the natural world outside. On tight budgets it’s understandable that real estate developers and local government opt to provide roofs for a few more heads instead of prioritising a park which inhabits none.
However, though this physical plane is the most visible to the naked eye, it is nothing less than a necessity for humans to have some interactions with the natural world. No impressions of greens and natural growth, and nothing but the same shades of concrete day in and day out is a recipe for depression. The psychological effects are harder to see, but it is obvious that a green space invites to communication, interaction and fellowship on a very different level from a concrete block.
The case being presented against investing heavily in green, public spaces is often based on budget restraints. We believe this is a misinterpretation of the cost of investment today versus the long term value, which can be captured if investment in green space is done right. The communities which have invested heavily in green spaces often become prized by the inhabitants and people from other parts of the city as well. This again leads to more people wanting to live there, and there you have the answer for serious real estate investors.
On a more personal level, we at Vestre believe that social meeting places can bring people together across different social, cultural and economic divides. With cities becoming more diverse due to urbanization, these kinds of meeting places is only getting more important by the day. It is possible to improve the urban environment, but it requires investment to value the well-being of inhabitants at a new level.
We are proud to join PARK(ing) Day activists in Oslo, Trondheim, Stockholm, Newcastle and New York City. In the latter, ASLA NY will present five cases of what we can do to make our cities more liveable, and our Parklets 2.0 concept is one of them. Hope to see you out there!