Designing urban parks: Theory and practice

Seyed-Kalal, Sassan
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University of Guelph

This thesis was a step towards understanding the theory and practice of urban park design in the contemporary urban environment. The goal of this thesis was to investigate current ideas pertaining to urban parks, focusing on concept/philosophy, culture, ecology and recreation as the criteria of analysis, in order to provide a sound background for the design of Downsview Park, Toronto, Ontario. The thesis approach included explorations from research to design. The first part of the thesis consists of a literature review, and analysis and critique of the design of twelve selected urban parks as case studies. Patterns and traces of change in urban parks during the last century in Europe and North America were investigated. Goals drawn from the synthesis of these studies provided a background for a design for Downsview Park and in response to these goals a design was undertaken. From the Downsview Park design exploration, it was concluded that urban park design of today needs interactive, open-ended, flexible and inclusive approaches and techniques with the emphasis being on process. The final conclusion drawn front the thesis as a whole is that three issues, culture and nature, diversity, and space and time, emerge as central issues that present challenges in the design of urban parks in the contemporary and future urban environment.

design, urban parks, Downsview Park, Toronto, Ontario, culture, nature, diversity, space, time