Planning, design and use of the public space Wahlenpark (Zurich, Switzerland): functional, visual and semiotic openness

Kaspar, Heidi; Bühler, Elisabeth (2009). Planning, design and use of the public space Wahlenpark (Zurich, Switzerland): functional, visual and semiotic openness Geographica Helvetica, 64(1), pp. 21-29.

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Wahlenpark is currently one of Zurich’s most recent urban public parks. It is located in a neighbourhood which has been totally rebuilt during the last 20 years. Based on a constructivist conception of space, this article looks at the kind of spaces that have been, and still are, produced at Wahlenpark. It is argued that various groups of actors are, and have been, involved in this production of spaces: city planners in the role of constructors, landscape architects in the role of designers and «the population» in the role of users. By defining requirements, city planners constitute space, at first on a mental level «only». As constructors they perform – through the designers’ plans – a powerful spacing act: they physically construct a park. Park users in their dual role as actors and «park element» subsequently (re-)produce manifold spaces by uniting social goods and people to spaces (see Löw 2001). It is argued that openness is an important reference point in the production and appropriation of space at Wahlenpark by planners, designers and users, albeit with different meanings. The statements of park users show that they experience openness differently, sometimes even in a contradictory manner, thereby highlighting the variability of subjective perception, resulting in both the inclusion and exclusion of the perceiver. In view of greater inclusiveness of public spaces, a better understanding of the manner in which people perceive and use these spaces is needed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > Institute for Participatory Health Care


Kaspar, Heidi0000-0002-1668-5855 and
Bühler, Elisabeth


G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography




[UNSPECIFIED] Swiss National Science Foundation


Heidi Kaspar

Date Deposited:

10 May 2021 14:31

Last Modified:

10 May 2021 14:31




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