Reclaiming Loose Space: Implications of Loose Space for Physical Activity

Harper, Kim
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University of Guelph

This thesis explores characteristics of loose space and their implications for physical activity. A space becomes loose when an individual is using it for something other than what it was intended. Individuals can pursue a range of physical activities not possible in other public spaces. To assess the compatibility between loose space and physical activity a survey of 27 users of loose space and key informant interviews from public health, municipal parks and landscape architecture disciplines were used. Interview findings suggest that unstructured forms of physical activity are more likely to be adopted and maintained while survey results show 70% of loose space users are achieving recommended physical activity levels. Multifunctional space that can accommodate appropriation and change may have design implications for improving health. Design recommendations and strategies were developed to inform the design and management of loose space for physical activity. This study suggests that the qualities and distribution of loose space could improve adoption and maintenance of physical activity.

loose space, alternative public open space, unstructured physical activity, urban green space provision