Mobile Urban Lab is a research unit which role is to map public space, specifically the brownfields in the city. The first activity referred to preparing an update of urban study called Urban Green Areas in Košice. The document aims to analyse the current situation of green infrastructure in the city and propose suggestions for its development. At the same time, it might help the municipality of Košice to decide which areas to revitalize, which land to buy in the future, which places to protect against the construction or human intervention, and how to raise the interest of the professional and general public.
Green area per capita is on the decline
The past 18 months have shown the considerable need for high-quality public spaces, may it be in the city center, the suburbs, or urban areas.
The city has been missing a complex strategic document for the development of green infrastructure. It was in its interest to create a manual of this kind. Comparing essential findings from the previous study (2013 - 2014) with the statistics from the latter shows that Košice lost more than 200 hectares of green areas (replaced by parking spots, pavements, spaces for containers, playgrounds, and sports fields). The number of greenery per capita dropped from 150 square meters seven years ago to 136 square meters per capita in 2021.
The study has suggested ten new city parks
Parks of urban importance are green spaces with more extensive areas and sophisticated services (public toilets, refreshments, playgrounds, etc.) that allow users to spend several hours there. The significance is also in its strategic location in terms of proximity of water, the presence of natural cooling down of the territory (Katabatic wind), and historical meaning.
Last years have shown that thanks to the revitalization of public spaces, it is possible to create top-rated community sites such as Kasárne Kulturpark or City Park near the Košice Main Station.
In cooperation with the research unit MUL, the urbanists identified ten larger areas situated in the wider city centre and its periphery. Together these create a green ring of potential places for city parks of supralocal meaning. Future green regions could become a strong base for community life, meet-ups, and high-quality leisure opportunities.
When planning future parks, it is also essential to focus on their accessibility, safety, management, and care. There is a need for concrete park rules and regulations, opening hours, and a facility manager to immediately deal with problems and requests.
Urbanists introduced to the public the idea of green ring
The working group created around MUL is composed of the partners experienced in urban planning and participation. Partners in the project, specifically the CXI together with East Coast (PP4) and the municipality (PP1), are having regular internal meetings also with the content coordinator/project manager, to follow the project objectives.
The Mobile Urban Lab working group organized nine meetings during the August and September 2021 with urban experts, stakeholders, and the general public. These meetings were part of the initial phase of the participatory process and aimed to introduce the green ring concept and collect feedback and ideas for those areas.
Eight of the meetings were held directly at the specific location of potential city parks or their close vicinity. They happened primarily in the SPOTs, the former heat exchangers currently used as community centres in the suburbs.
The collection of suggestions continued online – a questionnaire was distributed to the general public via communication channels of project Košice 2.0 and relevant project partners. During the upcoming months, the working group will be focusing on the outcomes from the questionnaire and proceed with the research and participative approach on the specific locations.
In case you would like to read more about our activities in Košice 2.0, please, don’t hesitate to visit our website.