Availability of Public, Near-residential Green Spaces 1992


Densely built-up urban space is characterized by high structural exploitation of land and a low proportion of remaining open space. In the inner city and in the densely built-up outskirts, only few useful open spaces are available for recreational purposes. The large near-urban recreational areas lie on the outskirts of town and/or further outside the city and are too difficult to reach for many recreation-seekers.

Within the densely built-up spaces, public green spaces, i.e., generally accessible areas under the legal responsibility of the Conservation and Green Space Agencies, as places for regeneration and physical/emotional adjustment, assume an important role for the recreation of the population.

Green spaces should fulfill different demands with regard to the attainability, size, equipment and form, according to the different recreational needs of the population.

For instance, the distance acceptable for reaching a green space (entrance area), is essentially determined by the free time which the individual has available for open-space-related recreation. If that time is limited, the green space must not be too far away. Good attainability of a green space is an important criterion for open-space leisure for less mobile sections of the population, such as senior citizens. Thus, near-residential green space is of great significance.

The demands of recreation seekers on the size of the open spaces and the multiplicity of its equipment and form grow with the duration of the time spent on the green space. Thus, on weekends, larger parks with an abundant array of use possibilities are much frequented. For instance, groups with children prefer non-regulated park areas, such as open green spaces, while senior citizens tend to prefer more generously equipped areas (cf. Gröning 1985).

The distinction is made between near-residential open space and near-development open space, whereby assignment to a category depends on area size.

Near-residential open space is associated with the direct residential area, its intake area being limited to 500 m. It can be reached in a short time (approx. 5-10 min. by foot), and with slight effort, and serves predominantly for short-term and after-work recreation. Because of its proximity to housing, this type of open space has a particular significance for less mobile sections of the population, such as children, senior citizens and handicapped persons. Near-residential open space is also of high value for employed persons, who can use it in their free time for a short stay outdoors. As a rule, green spaces of small size (as little as 0.5 ha) suffice for the demands of short-term and after-work recreation.

Near-development open space, which includes all green spaces of over 10 ha, is also designed to serve half and all-day recreation. Higher demands are associated with it, both in terms of size and of equipment diversity. Near-development green spaces of more than 50 ha in addition assume the function of superior-quality open spaces with multi-borough significance for the recreation of the Berlin population (e.g. the Great Tiergarten, Wuhlheide Public Park). The intake area of near-development open spaces ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 m, depending on the size of the facility. Fundamentally, a near-development open space should always also fulfill the function of a near-residential open space (for the break-down, cf. Tab. 1).

The following standard values are targeted in Berlin for the availability of open spaces to the population:

  • near-residential open space: 6 m2 per inhabitant (m2/inh.),
  • near-development open space: 7 m2/inh. (cf. “Richtwerte für Frei- und Grünflächen” der Senatsverwaltung für Bau- und Wohnungswesen, Sept. 1973, from Schindler 1975 and 1976, from Kellermann 1979 and from AG Freiraum und Ökologie 1982).
Link to: Vergrößern
Tab. 1: Breakdown of the Berlin Open and Green Spaces
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin

For the assessment of the availability of near-residential open space, only those green spaces suitable for recreation were considered. Thus, only such facilities count as useful, which fulfill corresponding minimum requirements with regard to area size, area shape, accessibility and also noise and air pollution (cf. Methodology).

The degree of availability (in m2/inh.) in a residential areas is calculated on the basis of spatially-defined intake areas, and derived from the size of the facility in relation to the number of inhabitants in the intake area. Residential areas outside the defined intake areas are considered as in principle non-provided.

The construction structure of the residential buildings constitutes a further criterion for the evaluation of open space availability (cf. Methodology). If deficits exist in the availability of public green spaces, it can be assumed that private / semi-public open space will compensate in part for the need for public areas. In fact, the availability of open spaces in single-family-dwelling developments with private yards, in which a large portion of open-space-related recreation can occur, is better than in densely-inhabited pre-war apartments which offer no possibilities for leisure in private open spaces. The construction structure thus counts as an indicator for the available share and/or need for private open space. Only a combination of the calculated degree of availability and the existing construction structure provides a differentiated picture of the actual situation.

The quality of the equipment of a green space, upon which the number of users that can use the facility essentially depends, was not considered in the availability analysis. If green spaces are lacking in proximity to a residential area, increased pressure is generated upon further-removed facilities, which contributes to sometimes major impairment of the quality and to limitation on the usefulness of the latter green spaces.