Urbani izziv Volume 19, No. 2, December 2008
Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris, Paris, France
The public of parks: In between observation and action<br>The example of Paris
How can we integrate a social dimension in the design and construction of public parks and gardens? More precisely, how can we assign a role to users and urbanites in public parks’ projects? Our hypothesis is that social sciences can play a double role with local populations: a cognitive role, which consists in describing uses and social dynamics at work in civil society, and a mediating role, between inhabitants and agents of design, construction and maintenance of parks. Both of these roles are linked through careful attention to the sites, which requires an empirical approach defined in this paper as an ethnographic approach. The methodology applied in Paris for several years is interrogated using several American approaches. Two examples are then discussed: the Parc Floral de Paris and the Jardins d’Eole where sociology was applied in a different way. The various modes used by social sciences to work on parks suggest that we should think about a new “distribution of tasks” between the different players of a design project, including the inhabitants, who are users as well as citizens.
design, public space, social sciences, users and uses, coproduction