Geschichte | Geographie | Wirtschaft | Gesellschaft


Olivia Sieber, 2002 | Rheinfelden, AG


De-industrialized cities in high-income countries are experiencing re-urbanization. For the growing and very diverse urban population, parks provide open space for recreational activities and social interaction. Well-designed parks adapted to the needs of the residents can promote social sustainability. This paper focuses on the aspect of social interaction and diverse age representation of visitors to assess social sustainability through observation and inventory assessment in four major parks (Claramatte, Erlenmatt, Horburg, Dreirosen) which are in a socially vulnerable area of Basel. The data was collected through non-participating observations throughout the day. Moreover, the data was complemented with quantitative data about the population structure and qualitative expert interviews. The study showed that the parks are visited in very high numbers, especially by the younger population, whereas seniors are represented in very low numbers.


The research was based on the following question: To what extent do the urban parks Horburg, Erlenmatt, Dreirosen, and Claramatte promote aspects of social sustainability such as age representation, inventory, and social usage? To study different aspects, three leading questions were established. (I) Are age groups equally represented in the park and if not, what are the reasons? (II) Do the parks provide inventory for all age groups and if so, what inventory seems to be attractive for which age group? (III) Which inventory is most used by all age groups, and which one promotes the most social usage?


The data collection method was a non-participating observation. The number of park visitors was recorded in 5 rounds, where each round took less than one hour with 10 minutes spent observing in each park. The visitors were categorized according to age groups, use of park inventory, and social usage. This method allowed for extensive data on park user behavior. Additionally, the results were complemented with expert interviews from the planning or social affairs in Basel and raw demographical data from the Statistical Office Basel-Stadt was used to relate the data collected to the whole quarter.


In all four parks, a significant underrepresentation of Seniors was found, whilst children were the most represented age group. The low percentage of Senior representation is partly due to the immense pressure on the parks meaning that they are designed to be used densely, especially by Children and Youth. Seniors generally seek quieter parks for relaxation, but no such parks were included in the study. Younger park visitors used the park most socially. But social usage was high across all age groups and all kinds of inventory. The most socially used inventory element was free areas. These can be used for many different activities which makes them the most accessible inventory for people of all ages, socio-economic statuses, and interests. Playground and Sports inventory was used very interactively as well, but not by Seniors. Like this, the park that focuses most on Sports had the least Seniors and thus, can be seen as the most exclusive to Seniors.


The research questions could be answered. The unequal age group representation showed some unsustainable park use, but otherwise, the parks were used socially sustainably. To give more reliable results, it would have been interesting to collect data in regular intervals over a longer period. Secondly, social sustainability is a complex concept that cannot be captured in a few variables. In more extensive research, interviews with park visitors would give a third perspective on how the parks are viewed and used.


The demand for green spaces in Kleinbasel is very high, thus, parks are densely equipped. This provides many attractions for children and youth but is not as appealing to seniors, as they tend to seek quieter and greener parks. The high usage and especially high social usage show socially sustainable park appropriation. But the exclusion of seniors is not optimal and could be improved by providing more interesting inventory specifically for seniors and more quiet places to sit and relax. To alleviate the high pressure on the existing parks and create spaces for recreation (especially for seniors), expanding green park spaces would be very valuable to social sustainability and overall living standards in Kleinbasel.



Würdigung durch die Expertin

Sandra Janett

Olivia Sieber hat sich mit ihrer Arbeit einer bedeutsamen Thematik angenommen. Mit viel Sorgfalt und Engagement ist es ihr gelungen, die Vielzahl an Daten zu analysieren und aufzuzeigen, wie häufig und mit welcher Absicht Parkanlagen von Personen aus unterschiedlichen Altersgruppen aufgesucht werden und welchen Einfluss die Planung und Gestaltung auf die Nutzung haben kann. Damit leistet sie einen wichtigen Beitrag zum Diskurs rund um nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung. Die Arbeit besticht durch eine reflektierte, wissenschaftliche Vorgehensweise sowie durch eine klare und verständliche Sprache.


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Gymnasium am Münsterplatz, Basel
Lehrerin: Dr. Susanne Eder-Sandtner