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Student and senior views on sustainable park design and intergenerational connection: A case study of an urban nature park
journal contributionposted on 2023-11-06, 00:30 authored by Angela KreutzAngela Kreutz
Sustainable park design is a trend towards efforts to preserve natural resources and support quality of life for people of all ages. The aim of this study was to investigate how a sustainably designed and managed urban nature park in Colorado, USA is viewed and used by younger and older people and therefore understand the potential for intergenerational connection in these settings. Interviews with 21 seniors aged 65 – 85 years from a neighbouring senior living complex and walking tours with 36 students aged 6 – 14 years from the adjoining school investigate views and use of park features, including a lake that is transitioning into a wetland. The study adopts the theory of affordances as a framework to thematically analyse activity and experience opportunities for younger and older park users and investigate how urban nature park design can promote intergenerational connection through understanding the perception of shared affordances. Results reveal three significant themes for students: i) playing; ii) improving ones mood; and iii) learning. Significant themes for seniors were: i) exercising; ii) observing nature; and iii) meeting people. Where affordance themes converged between student and senior responses intergenerational connect opportunities emerged. These insights have implications for optimizing applied design and maintenance of urban nature parks for intergenerational health and wellbeing. The study advocates for city parks departments and landscape practitioners to implement environmentally sustainable landscape design and management strategies that afford and sustain intergenerational cohesion in urban nature parks.