MijnPark.Amsterdam (My Park Amsterdam) is a project looking to get people involved in their surroundings again – in their neighbourhood and in their city. We will not directly organise on the ground projects. Rather, we aim to develop an approach by which public values will be taken into account in planning or in improving urban green spaces. By public values we mean the people’s own perception and preferences. Because these are subjective, can change over time and are difficult to measure they are usually not really taken into account, or only in later stages of the planning process. Usually an architect will already have decided how a place will look in the design phase.
Measuring public values
We want to work out ways by which the subjective public values can be identified and included in plans for new places or in renovating places that already exist. For example some people would prefer to have a park within walking distance so that they can escape the stress of work and living in the city. Others would much rather have a football field, or a playground closer by and are prepared to cycle for some distance to a larger park when they need to. In spatial planning this needs to be weighed up against ecological functions, such as biodiversity or rainwater capture, and infrastructural necessities such as roads and buildings.
We are currently testing different methods. Now we are trying out a digital spatial survey. We think that this way many people who do not have time to go to workshops or information evenings can also have their say. To do this we ask people to take part and fill in an online survey whereby they indicate what they need in their neighbourhood – at different distances, and which places they now enjoy for different activities. This way we want to create two maps: one of where certain spaces are needed (public needs), and one that shows where places are now valued or disvalued (public values).
By comparing these two maps we can see where there are mismatches. We can also compare the maps of public needs and values with maps of ecological functions or of municipal plans to check how and where they complement each other, or are compromised.
Our first project was a pilot with an app in the Rembrandtpark. While that app was useful for measuring how people experience specific places in the park it also had a number of disadvantages. It was very difficult to adapt, expensive and many people would have preferred being able to fill it in at home. Here you can see a selection of the Mijn Park app pilot results.