Book review: Open Space: People Space

Open Space: People Space was first published in 2007 following a successful conference of the same name held in 2004.

Three years on, this book remains relevant to all professionals interested in people’s engagement with the outdoor spaces around them.

For any practitioner interested in the inclusive planning, design and management of outdoor spaces Open Space: People Space provides a highly accessible reference.

Comprised of thirteen essays, the book covers key policy issues in planning for open space in a range of contexts, before exploring the experience of exclusion.

Logically ordered and insightful, the book then turns to the challenges associated with designing for inclusive access and the innovative approaches which can drive future best practice.

Combining an engaging balance of theory and case study experience, Open Space: People Space will strike a chord with any professional who has been embroiled in the emotive issue of planning for open space. 

Considering both urban and rural environments, as well as varying perspectives across ages, abilities, ethnicities and socio-cultural groups, the book considers how spaces around us can contribute to health and quality of life. 
The contributors provide a critical perspective on many concepts that have all too often become buzz-words in planning: widely used but with little impact on the ground. 

For example, Moore and Cosco’s chapter on ‘inclusive and universal design’ focuses on park layouts. Whilst this is an American case study, it has real resonance for public areas all across Britain: considering, for example wider issues of access and transport, participation and engagement, and perceptions of safety. 

Similarly, Ken Worpole’s chapter on public health, policy and greenspace unpicks the ‘greener, safer, cleaner’ approach to neighbourhood renewal, and argues that "if only a minute fraction of what is spent on the NHS were diverted to the improvement of parks and the wider public domain, then there might genuinely be an urban renaissance".

This is a sentiment echoed in several recent publications, which have identified that where people perceive green space quality to be good, they are more satisfied with their neighbourhood and are more likely to report better health.

CABE recognise that a key challenge in urban areas is that local green space resources largely remain unexploited. For anyone looking for a new perspective on public space, Open Space: People Space will inspire you to address this challenge in an informed and innovative way.  

Fiona Brereton is an assistant planner in Drivers Jonas Deloitte’s Birmingham Real Estate Team.

Buy Open Space: People Space here

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