The art of spending time outdoors, for most people, is one aspect of life that brings happiness and pleasure in what seems to have become a world where people spend more time indoors than out. The ability to spend that time outside in well-designed spaces is what makes like in a city more enjoyable. Knowing that, it is somewhat difficult to understand why so many cities fail to make the investment and understand the role landscape designers will have in cities of the future, let alone to properly design outdoor spaces as it impacts the quality of life of those that live there, let alone a city’s ability to attract new business and talent.
As most of us appreciate the time we spend outside, it is interesting to speak with people on their feelings about the outdoor spaces they enjoy most, what aspects about them they find attractive and what draws them to those spaces. For many, outdoor spaces in cities remind them of childhood memories that often are focused on outdoor activities with friends or family.
Outdoor Spaces Increase Quality of Life
Studies have shown that those that invest a greater amount of time outdoors are happier and tend to be healthier as well. The combination of the two has proven to increase lifespans, and those urban areas that feature quality outdoor spaces tend to reap the rewards tenfold in multiple ways. This includes reduced healthcare costs, increased economic output, economic growth and an overall happier population.
History has shown, those cities that fail to get this right and not have an adequate amount of well-designed outdoor space lack the ability to attract younger people to move to their cities. When you consider the cost to design and build these spaces, the minimal investment is returned for generations to come. Studies have shown it not only attracts the young but also attracts urban professionals and those entering their golden years as well who choose to move back to urban areas so as to be closer to health care facilities.
Outdated Trends Hard to Change
It seems the trend to put more thought into indoor spaces, and building designs remains firmly intact, however, what is clear is that the role designers will play in the future towards outdoor space will define a city in more ways than one. It is not uncommon when looking at waterfront cities to hear complaints about its deterioration, and subsequent investment to improve the value water front areas bring to a city. Those cities, such as Chicago that have chosen to make a concentrated effort to revitalise their waterfronts have found an increase in pedestrian traffic in those areas. That investment has allowed them to attract tourism traffic, which collectively benefits the local economy and health of its citizens as they spend more time engaging in walking, sports breathing fresh air.
What is clear is that the need to invest in outdoor spaces will be the determining factor in an ever populated world, one that has over 70% living in cities around the world. Those that design innovative parks, walkways and bike trails will be those that benefit in the future and the role of the outdoor designer will only play a larger importance as new technologies are integrated into public spaces and are combined with the qualities that are unique to our environment.