A landscape study brings together aspects of universal design and accessibility with wellbeing. Using an existing park in a Polish city as a case study, researchers had to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of eliminating some features in favour of others.
For example, the loss of a sports field in favour of a new recreational feature suited to a wider range of age groups. A sensory garden and a garden pavilion where food stands could operate are a major plus. The paper goes into some technical detail, with lots of charts showing their assessment criteria.
When the remodelling of the park was complete, the final assessment phase showed increased visitation. However, getting to the park was still problematic due to the poor accessibility from nearby streets. This is a key point and something emphasised in the Everyone Can Play guideline that has the three key elements for a successful play space: Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?
The therapeutic properties of landscapes are a phenomenon that is difficult to measure objectively. Designing health-affirming places for an anonymous user requires a departure from the traditional approach based on designers’ subjective, authoritarian perception of beauty towards Evidence Based Design (EBD). This paper presents a qualitative study of a section of Gdynia city center around the new city park. The universal pattern of health-affirming places was used in the study. This tool does not eliminate issues associated with the subjectivity of perception of landscape therapeutic properties, but it helps to organize the assessment process and use available scientific evidence.