NEWS

Security is not the reason

Open green spaces ought to be treated as part of a network, not as isolated «gaps» within the built-up environment. Fencing in a park does not mean anything by itself. What is also required is to back it up with a study coupled with landscape planning, protection from the sight and sound of nearby roads, improved access, policing and so on. Invoking security reasons for the fencing in of the Pedion tou Areos park has no foundation in fact. The fence is no more an obstacle to any agile person than the law is to the lawbreaker; it is simply a challenge to be overcome. Adequate and continual policing, organization, lighting and proper management of the park is what is needed to make public spaces safe, and above all, to give people the sense that it is their own space, an extension of their living room. The Platzspitz Park in the center of Zurich was the haunt of drug addicts and out of bounds to ordinary people until 1993, when it was cleaned up, policed and opened up so that people could have free access to it without fencing or other restrictions. The same applies to some of the world’s most modern parks, such as those in Barcelona and Paris. Fencing off Pedion tou Areos unfortunately has gone hand in hand with the privatization of public space, whether by means of setting out cafe tables in public squares or by vendors’ stalls in green spaces. Of course, various small-scale activities such as kiosks, refreshment areas and music pavilions can be incorporated into parks but should only be introduced as part of general plan and should not detract from the park’s character. *The author is an architect and town planner.