"There has been mixed opinions about greening buildings here and the support is very different to that in the UK" says Bernie Connolly, Boomerang Mattress Scheme Co-ordinator, "even though these are very valuable in terms of employment; and in terms of their social and community benefits."
She goes on to say "that a lot of the estates have greens but these areas are not useful and are wasted spaces." She concludes "there needs to be more imaginative projects such as plant a tree for every citizen in Cork and planting herbs in these areas, plants that have uses."
Generations of Cork citizens and visitors have enjoyed the tranquil atmosphere of Fitzgerald Park, named after Edward Fitzgerald, the city's Lord Mayor and Exhibition Committee chairman who was instrumental in organising Cork's International Exhibition.
Recently, the park has undergone renovations and new areas for the public have been added. These have been a great success with many visitors visiting the park for the opening.
In recognition of the park’s history as the venue for the 1902 Cork International Exhibition, a design team re-imagined the gardens as a venue and destination fit for the 21st century.
The team designed spaces that could cater to large outdoor public events and performances as well as smaller garden spaces of exceptional design quality, re-affirming Mardyke Garden’s place within the city as a venue and setting for public celebrations, exhibitions and spectacles.
This is just one park however for a population 120,000 people, with Cork County having a population of 520,000 in total. What are the values of these open spaces?
The value of urban open space can be considered with regards to their function, that is, as nature reserves, urban design areas, their economical benefits and their benefits as social retreats and outdoor recreational facilities.
They have also been categorized from a sociological viewpoint where studies suggests that these areas provide civic and social capital as well as promote economic development, enhance education, establish green infrastructure, and make positive contributions to public health.
Regardless of how we choose to identify these benefits, it is clear that having and planning for open space and recreation areas in our communities is critical to achieving and maintaining a high quality of life for residents.
Another theme, I frequently encountered in South Korea, was the use of the public areas by citizens. They used them as their functions listed above, as meeting areas, as exercise areas, as social areas and as areas of national preservation. Have we lost sight of some of these basic values of open spaces in Western Societies?
What is your opinions about green spaces in your city? What do you think can be done to improve these spaces for public use?
Credit: Images by Olivia Dolan. Data linked to sources.