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Square or Park?



This week the International Landscape Architecture Festival kicks off in Melbourne Australia. The theme of the conference is The Square and The Park. The festival curators see it as a contentious issue between these two landscape typologies which dominate our cities that haven’t changed in the past hundred years.


Klyde Warren城市公园- James Burnett工作室(图片版权:Thomas McConnell)/Klyde Warren Park – Office of James Burnett  | (Image Credit: Thomas McConnell)

全世界的许多城市都在纠结到底要建广场还是公园:哪一个是社区的需求? 哪一个最适合城市的发展? 现代的公园和广场都具有能适应人类日新月异的城市发展的弹性功能,都为公民提供了开放空间,也都有着各自的优点。



Many cities across the world are grappling with the decision of whether they create a square or a park. Which one does the community need? What will be best in the long term for the city? Many parks and squares have been resilient to our ever-changing cities, providing open space for citizens but they offer different benefits.

Perceived by the public as a civic space with hard surfaces one or more open sides as a forecourt to a major building (Trafalgar Square in front of The National Gallery) or closed central plaza with active edges of retail, restaurants and a church or town hall (Piazza San Marco).


Kungsbacka广场-White事务所(图片版权:Per Kårehed)/Kungsbacka Square – White arkitekter (Image Credit: Per Kårehed)


布鲁塞尔大广场-OMGEVING事务所(图片版权:Hannelore Veelaert, OMGEVING)/Grote Markt – OMGEVING (Image Credit: Hannelore Veelaert, OMGEVING)

世界上有很多著名的广场,从意大利的小广场和美国的城市广场(通常小于1000平方米/ 10,000平方英尺),到莫斯科、北京、马德里的大广场(数十万平方米米/百万平方英尺),从中心广场到可容纳数百人的集会广场,再到可容纳数千人的阅兵广场,广场可以满足各种功能需要。集会广场空间通常处于高度城市化的环境中,且具有大面积的硬质景观,可为各类项目提供场所,但是广场在夏季和冬季并不能提供宜人的环境。广场通常作为活动和商业场所,让不同人群聚集在一起购物、用餐、观景和享受城市生活。

There are many squares across the world from the small squares in Italy and town squares of the USA (often under 1000 square metres/10,000 square feet) to the large squares of Moscow, Beijing, Madrid which are often in the hundreds of thousands of square metres (millions of square feet). They serve a variety of purposes from central squares, markets squares with a few hundred people up to parade squares with thousands of people. Squares are gathering spaces that are often in a highly urban context with large areas of hardscape that also for a multitude of program and placemaking. Although they can also be very stifling in summer and cold in winter. Squares are often seen as places of activity and commerce allowing for various groups to gather and congregate to shop, dine, people watch and enjoy the life of the city.


Piece Hall广场-Gillespies(图片版权:Paul White)/The Piece Hall – Gillespies (Image Credit: Paul White)


维多利亚广场-Hansen Partnership(图片版权:Andrew Lloyd)/Victoria Square – Hansen Partnership (Image Credit: Andrew Lloyd)



Parks are often seen as soft spaces that create green lungs for the city offering an urban forest with large expanses of planting and grass for the public to seek respite from the hustle and bustle and heat of the city. A place that can be passive and allow people to relax, but also engage in various activities (active and passive sports) that often could be seen to be out of place in a square (or often banned in the square).


朱拉隆功大学中央公园-LANDPEOCESS | (图片版权:LANDPROCESS)/Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park – LANDPROCESS | (Image courtesy of LANDPROCESS)


ZilArt公园- !melk事务所(图片版权:!melk事务所)/ZilArt Park – !melk| (Images courtesy of !melk)



The conundrum that city planners, urban designers and the public often faces is do we need a square or a park? This question has become more fraught and tenuous as the density of cities has increased at the same time that open space and the urban forest have been lost.  


英国伦敦莱斯特广场-Burns + Nice(图片:Burns + Nice)/Leicester Square City Quarter – Burns + Nice | (Image Credit Burns + Nice)



The answer is not always clear as cities endeavour to strike a balance between civic and environmental needs of the community. The most important element is understanding the site context to determine the best use of the place. Often in highly urban environments, a central park may not be the answer due to the micro-climate (orientation, shading, scale, available space) whereas a plaza may be more suited due to the ability to create a multiuse area with active building edges. Whereas, an open plot in medium-density family housing lends itself to a park with a variety of uses and able to serve a wider demographic.
Cities have also recently built hybrids typologies with a park in a square or square in a park that incorporates hard and soft spaces (a periphery or central green or a square with a small area of green) which allow for a variety of passive and active programming. These squares also integrate water sensitive urban design such as Water Square which allows for water retention and storage during rain events.


水广场- De Urbanisten事务所(图片版权:De Urbanisten事务所)/Water Square – De Urbanisten | Image Credit: De Urbanisten


Yagan广场-ASPECT事务所(图片版权:Peter Bennetts)/Yagan Square – ASPECT Studios (Image Credit: Peter Bennetts)


Berczy公园- Claude Cormier + associés事务所(图片版权:Industryous Photography)/Berczy Park – Claude Cormier + associés | (image Credit: Industryous Photography)


Having a discourse about these hybrid spaces is often hard as they are not often clearly called a park or square with squares called parks and parks are called squares. In the end, is it of consequence? or is it all academic and the true value of the space is that a successful space is created that suits the community needs who have taken ownership of space and enjoy to the full.


Warrior广场花园(图片版权:Colin Philp)/Warrior Square Gardens | (Photograph Copyright: Colin Philp)


Warrior广场花园(图片版权:Colin Philp)/Warrior Square Gardens | (Photograph Copyright: Colin Philp)


Dilworth公园(图片版权:OLIN / Sahar Coston Hardy)/Dilworth Park | (Image Credit | OLIN / Sahar Coston Hardy )


Dilworth公园(图片版权:OLIN / Sahar Coston Hardy)/Dilworth Park | (Image Credit | OLIN / Sahar Coston Hardy )


The key is to design a successful central place for the community is to ensure that it responds to the context of the surrounding environment and provides a place for the community to thrive. Any park, square or hybrid must be resilient and allow for repurposing for future uses and communities with little rework and expenditure.




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