Accessibility to social utilities within urban green space. A method-developing thesis.

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: This thesis aims to develop a methodological framework for analyzing the accessibility to potential social utility environments within urban green spaces from a broad population spectrum within a weekday context. The thesis departs with a scientific literature review, which investigates what types of social utilities urban green spaces potentially can provide to an urban population and what kind of attributes that are important for each utility. The review revealed three main utilities derivable from urban green space; stimulation pf physical activity, mental recovery and social interaction. Important aspects and theoretical concepts of accessibility within a weekday context were also investigated. From these findings, a methodological framework was constructed that first classifies all urban green spaces within the case area quantitatively according to their potential to provide these three main utilities. As urban green space attribute data, a sociotopic classification is used, along with area size and traffic noise pollution. Then, walking accessibility from residential areas to these types of social utility areas for each utility is analyzed. Population statistics is also connected to the accessibility level data. This methodological framework was then applied on this study’s case area, the city of Gothenburg. The result revealed that the most common form of utility within Gothenburg is social interaction, followed by stimulation of physical activity. The result indicated that a majority of the population within the study area have an adequate accessibility to these forms of utility, while only a third of the population had it to mental recovery, which also appear to be the generally most desired utility. The main reason for a lack of accessibility to these utilities were lack of larger urban green spaces in the vicinity of residential areas and traffic noise. From these results, four main conclusions were derived. Firstly, urban green spaces are not a homogenous resource. Secondly, accessibility is a key concept in the understanding of urban green space utility potential for urban inhabitants. Thirdly, to quantitatively analyze accessibility to social utilities within urban green space is a complicated process that requires a lot of data. Fourthly, despite several shortcomings, the methodological framework developed in this thesis can reveal important obstacles for the strive towards social sustainable urban environments.

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