Effects of street parks on social interactions among neighbors: A place perspective

Skjæveland, O.

Skjæveland, O. (2001). Effects of street parks on social interactions among neighbors: A place perspective. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 18(2), 131–147. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43030569

This study investigated influences of residential street layout on neighboring. The study design was quasi-experimental with one pretest and two posttest measurements in an intervention group and two control groups. Data were collected using a recently developed questionnaire (MMN) and through field observations. The intervention implemented in this study was a transformation of three sections of residential streets into street parks, entailing considerable changes in street floor and spatial layout, provisions of street furniture like benches, planting of trees and flower beds, installation of play equipment, and prohibition of traffic and parked vehicles. Supportive acts of neighboring, neighbor annoyance, and children's play showed an overall increase in the intervention streets, interpreted as a sign of increased involvement in the neighborhood. Weak social ties and neighborhood attachment showed more complex patterns of changes, depending on demographic factors. It is suggested that symbolic effects of the changes may be more significant than functional effects, and thus that a change of neighborhood identity is an important mechanism.

Main finding
While the conversions of residential streets into street parks increased the presence of children, street activities, and supportive acts of neighboring, it also increased annoyance, which confounded the former positive effects and left neighborhood attachment unchanged. Annoyance likely came from increased children's play, frustration over parking issues, or new behaviors and activities on the street. Weak, or casual, social ties were not found to be affected.

Description of method used in the article
Relying on surveys and observations, the author used a quasi-experimental method to conduct one pretest and two posttest measurements, after two and three years, on three streets which were redesigned as street parks, with two established street parks and five regular streets as control samples.

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