We Need More Parks


  • How to understand the dynamism of parks, with the same space offering multiple functions
  • Why parks should be valued as a venue for informal meetings, healthy outings, and social and community cohesion
  • How parks are an essential component of equitable revitalization strategies


The world's population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. With people living at higher densities in an increasing number of mega cities, those residents, according to the World Health Organization, need nine square meters of green space per person. To meet this goal, cities need more parks. With these pressures, planning for parks can be difficult. In developed cities, they often need to be retrofitted into areas which have little development value, and in new and emerging cities, they require planners to advocate strongly for their inclusion. Parks are an essential feature of cities, adding a new dimension to the urban fabric. Their intrinsic importance lies not just in their experiential qualities of openness, landscape, and opportunities for play; more importantly, they provide shared space for community cohesion, sustainability, improved physical and mental health, and neighborhood revitalization. In short, they are an essential component of the public realm. This course draws on examples from the United States and the United Kingdom to explore ideas around three themes — parks as forums for civic engagement, parks as space for sustainable living, and parks as agents of urban revitalization.