A park is no longer just a park, a piece of green with a fence around it. Parks are so much more; they are places to enjoy, to discover and to 'refuel'. In almost all parks, besides walking and cycling, you can also do sports, play, row, ride, skate, go to concerts, meet people, but above all be outside. We collected 5 child-friendly trends.
At Mini Beee, we love the outdoors and playing outside, which is why we do what we do. We make children's outdoor furniture so that children can enjoy being and playing outside. At the same time, we realise that not everyone has a garden, balcony or roof terrace. Fortunately, there is a growing social awareness that outdoors is very important and municipalities are paying more and more attention to parks, gardens and public gardens. In this blog, we have listed the 5 best trends for you.
1. Parks as Infrastructure
Whereas a city park used to be a public green space in the city with a fence around it, nowadays the modern city park is directly connected to the city's infrastructure.
For example, the designers of the Amsterdam-based studio Inside Outside designed and laid out the park Biblioteca degli Alberi in Milan. According to Google Maps, this park halved the travel time for residents around the park. They can now go to work or to the shops in a straight line. The city park was built over an area covered by major roads and train tracks. By using these kinds of solutions, cities are becoming greener, climate change-proof, and public space is used more effectively.
Other examples are the Valencia Parque Central project, which consists not only of a new park, but is part of the renovation of the station and the connection of all public transport lines in the city. Or the city park in New York. This park was built in an old underground line. People now walk in nature from stop to stop.
2. Parks everywhere
One of the consequences of climate change is the retention of extreme heat in densely populated urban areas. Densely built-up areas have very little heat-absorbing natural cover and many impermeable heat-collecting surfaces, which amplify the heat during the day and then radiate it at night. These places are also called hot zones or urban heat islands.
The best shade is the shade of trees and plants. Parks and green spaces therefore prove to be one of the most effective means of combating the effects of urban heat islands. Parks are the 'green lungs' of a city, and literally and figuratively give cities air and coolness.
Many cities are therefore trying to maximise the benefits of parks and make the city as green as possible to counteract the effects of hot zones. Amsterdam is therefore currently building a vertical park. The vertical Park Royal on Pickering in Singapore is another good example. This luxury hotel is a green oasis in the city and is full of environmentally friendly features, from solar energy to the use of rainwater to bring back water use. The energy this saves can power 680 households for a year. The entire building is green. The hotel's trees and gardens blend into those of the adjacent park. The huge gardens are laid out on every fourth level between the blocks of guest rooms.
Up on the roof!
Most of the unused space in a city is on the roof. The emergence of green roofs offers new opportunities to create innovative parks. This trend is best illustrated by Rotterdam, which has built DakPark, a park on top of an almost 1.5 km long building, complete with playgrounds, gardens and a kiosk. There are even sheep grazing.
3. The park as vegetable garden
Urban gardening is becoming increasingly popular. The trend originated in America and has slowly spread to Europe. In cities a lot of space is not used, while there are a lot of possibilities to grow vegetables and fruit. On a small balcony a vertical garden can grow quite a lot. So even if there is little space, there are plenty of possibilities. Besides that more and more parks and public gardens grow vegetables and fruit like Eetbaar Park (Edible Park) in The Hague.
Earlier I mentioned that most of the empty space is on flat roofs. In Amsterdam at Park Zuid the roof of an old office building is used to grow more than fifty varieties of vegetables, herbs and small fruit.
The Royal Park Organisation in England offers aspiring gardeners the opportunity to rent garden plots in order to grow their own vegetables and in Ghent, on top of a business centre Rooffood has a 200m2 collective rooftop vegetable garden.
4. Park as recreation and place to exercise
Several studies have shown that there is a sharp and persistent decline in sports participation among children. At the same time, there is also a steady decline in overall physical activity among young people. The Aspen Institute's "State of Play 2021" report shows that before the restrictions caused by the pandemic, participation in youth sports already dropped from 45 per cent in 2008 to 38 per cent in 2018. Most children between the ages of 6 and 12 who play team sports stop at the age of 11, and since the pandemic three out of ten children who used to play sports say they are no longer interested in starting again.
These are alarming statistics. Exercise is hugely important for a child's development and health. So it is up to us to make exercise and sport fun again for children.
The Noorderpark in Amsterdam-Noord, for example, organises activities to introduce children to nature, to play, to exercise or to relax. In many Dutch parks, sports activities are organised during the school holidays or the parks are used for after-school care. Such as Woest Zuid. This children's club organises activities in the open air and introduces children to different sports, such as baseball, hockey or ditch jumping.
5. The pop-up park
Parks will appear everywhere where people can find a place to sit. You may have noticed it before. An ordinary car park that has been transformed into a small park with a tree, a patch of grass and a bench. This miniature piece of greenery was conceived by three urban designers in San Francisco and has led to an (unexpected) worldwide movement known as PARK(ing) Day.
PARK(ing) is not the only Pop-up Park. Pop-up Parks (PUPs) are a growing phenomenon, taken very seriously by urban researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. They argue that PUPs (temporary green spaces) have many benefits for both biodiversity and the people living in cities. Various studies show how important nature is for people's well-being. Contact with nature, even if it is only as big as a parking space, can greatly improve one's health.
Not a trend but wonderful and magical: Glow in the Dark plants
A team of chemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made amazing progress in producing luminous plants. They have introduced a solution with light-storing and light-emitting Nanoparticles into the spongy layer of the leaves, called the mesophyll, in several common plant species. The research is still in progress, but it is possible that soon the paths in parks will be lit by chemoluminescent plants that stay on all night.
A Dutch initiative is the Van Gogh (cycling) path in Nuenen. Not plants, but stones with fluorescent properties are charged by UV light for 4 minutes and emit light for 8 minutes. The aim is to eliminate the need for an external light source and to use only natural sources for fluorescence.
Not just a park
You probably agree, a park no longer is just a park, a piece of greenery with a fence around it. Parks nowadays are so much more; they are places to enjoy, to discover and where you can 'fill up with nature energy'. Almost all parks, offer areas to do sports, play, row, ride, skate, go to concerts, meet people, but above all spend time in nature.