Chiara Del Core 1 apr 2021 Articles 0 comments


As for the furniture inserted in the green areas, it must be used by all without discrimination. The components must be safe, comfortable, accessible, long-lasting and pleasing to the eye.

The composition of the garden

The public green space project starts from the analysis of the context and the spatial and natural conformation of the place. The quality and healthiness of the area depend on many factors, first of all the soil.
The landscape changes constantly in relation to the natural forces of atmospheric agents and climate change. For this reason, the best solutions must be adopted to optimize soil performance, avoiding its deterioration. It is therefore clear that one of the preliminary needs is to preserve the quality of the soil in relation to the functions that will be placed there. To do this, it is essential to maintain the maximum level of soil permeability through drainage systems. In addition, utmost attention must be paid to preserving the soil's fertility and its biological component, since often the area of ​​intervention for the construction of the public garden has heterogeneous and variable soils. In fact, it can happen that the organic component of the soil is very low; in this case, the substrate is corrected. It is essential to be aware that the soil is the basic element on which the effective quality of everything that makes up the green area on the surface depends and for this reason one of the primary objectives is to maintain the right natural balance of the soil.
The layering must guarantee permeability and must be made up of overlapping materials that blend with the nature of the place. Furthermore, an important factor to consider is the management of meteoric washouts on paved and grassed soils. Through specific channels, the water is directed to the infiltration areas or to the centralized disposal network ensuring the water cycle.

Logins and steps
Within the public green area, the accesses and paths constitute an important element for the comfortable use of the user. Designed to be easily passable and accessible to all, they are made of materials able to withstand pedestrian and bicycle traffic. There must be a direct connection between the internal and external paths in order to allow continuity between the green area and the relevant lot and ensure the greatest possible flow of people who go to the garden from the neighborhood.
As for the materials used in the construction of avenues and walkways, they must be comfortable and long lasting. On the surface, the use of permeable materials, such as gravel, avoids the use of specific rainwater management devices, significantly reducing the overall costs of the project. Furthermore, the choice of materials is connected to the expected user flow, climatic conditions, future maintenance and diversified use of the area. It is interesting to understand how the paths are modeled on the needs of the user: movement and needs are crucial. The common tendency is to move along a path towards a goal, identifying intermediate points (stops) and avoiding obstacles and adverse situations. Depending on the route, then, it is necessary to study the typical section and the bottom in order to guarantee the safety of users. For example, the pavements of pedestrian and cycle paths must not be too smooth or too rough and the different speed of movement of cyclists and pedestrians will imply the use of different materials. Today the choice of the material to be adopted is made on the basis of the requirements of color, texture and consistency;
moreover, the industrial processes allow artificial materials to obtain a yield very similar to the natural one, enjoying benefits from an economic and maintenance point of view. In recent years, moreover, the material adopted in the paths within the public green areas has partially replaced the function of indicating to the user, once performed by vertical signage. The changes in color and texture are used to distinguish pedestrian areas from cycle areas, to signal obstacles or to give important information also to those who have physical and perception limitations.
Industrial progress thus assigns a multifunctional role to elements that until recently did not play.

Rest areas
Too often the failure of many public places and common spaces is caused by the total absence of parking and sitting elements. The insertion of benches and shelves makes the use of the paths more pleasant and comfortable. In fact, the positioning of this type of components must guarantee availability to users at specific time intervals (one session every 5-10 minutes of the journey). The integrated design of routes and parking areas must take into account the speed of travel of the user (considering that less than pedestrians) and the slope of the terrain on which he works. In fact, in areas with a higher slope, where the walking speed is lower, the sessions will be placed at a smaller distance between them.
The function of the parking area is also not negligible, seen as a place where you can find relaxation and refreshment or where to socialize. To this end, it is important to connect the seating element to the context and to the possible insertion of tree species precisely as a function of the same, to ensure areas of shade and rest especially during the summer season. 

Lighting technology
The design aspect that concerns the lighting of places is necessary in order to enjoy them even in the evening and at night. It determines the characters of the space because it is able to highlight or on the contrary obscure precise elements.
As for public places, the lighting design requires special attention and versatility, requiring the use of resistant materials suitable for intense and external use. In this case, the appliances may be fewer in number but must have a higher intensity in order to guarantee a good degree of safety for users throughout the night. The design process involves a preventive analysis of the characteristics of the site in relation to the context in which it is located; later it is essential to know the needs of the user. At this stage it is important to consider the quality of natural light, which varies according to the exposure and the time of year. Among the needs to be met, first of all, safety allows you to travel the area in peace even in the least visited and perimeter spaces. Follows the accessibility by all and the related flows that will establish the different lighting levels. Only later will the lighting equipment be chosen and the technical parameters and performance checked. In the case of public green areas, the application of these principles will concern the lighting of: vegetation, paths, bodies of water.

In this case, the direction of the light beam, the location of the luminaires and the qualitative-quantitative aspect of the light are to be considered. Depending on light from below, from above or from the side, completely different final effects will be obtained; the light from above reproduces a result similar to that of natural light, shading the lower edge of the foliage. The light from the bottom or from the side, on the other hand, creates a completely different image giving emphasis to the texture and shape of the vegetation. Specifically, the trees react differently in relation to the position of the devices chosen on the basis of the physical conformation of the shrub itself. The general rule provides for the shielding of the light source in order to avoid glare from the observer.

Vegetazione illuminata dal basso    Vegetazione illuminata dal basso

Scenic glimpses of vegetation illuminated from below

The paths inside the common green area can be pedestrian or cycle paths. The lighting of the former, varies according to the flows of people expected depending on whether they are paths, paths, avenues, sidewalks and large walkways. Another factor that influences the design choices is the function performed by the path. Paths usually require low intensity devices positioned at the bottom while pedestrian walkways subject to denser flows require powerful systems with elements placed from above and shielded so as not to blind users. The lighting system for parks and gardens must be functional and must not
lead users to divert attention from the elements that make up the landscape (trees, furniture, sculptures).
It is preferable that the light intensity of the path is constant and free of dark areas or, on the contrary, over-illuminated and that the luminance levels between paths and surrounding areas are as homogeneous as possible.

Illuminazione notturna con luci basse   Illuminazione notturna di un parco pubblico

Path lighting with low luminaires and with lighting from above

In the event that the garden has glimpses enriched with ponds, it is essential to artificially illuminate this important resource. The designer is faced with the dual choice of lighting the body from the outside or inserting underwater devices. What needs to be kept in mind is that light has some physical properties in contact with water. For example, given that the moving water incorporates air inside it, when the light hits it it interacts producing air bubbles that give the water a shimmering appearance. The creation of luminescent effects sometimes takes on great importance, becoming a real pole of attraction that gives the area a plus value.

Functional areas
We have previously talked about multifunctional gardens, equipped with areas dedicated to specific uses.
This is how depending on the extent of the land for public use and the constraints of the area, useful areas are recreated not only from an environmental but also social point of view.
These are places of leisure, relaxation, sport, where users of social backgrounds and different ages have the opportunity to meet and generate that precious and too often lacking exchange in the urban scenario.
The most recurrent uses within the neighborhood gardens are described below.

The play area is an important area used for the recreational activities of children and minors. Sometimes it is bounded by physical boundaries mainly for security reasons.
The design of these spaces must be carried out with responsibility and attention, since it constitutes a recreational and training scenario for a growing user.
Often we proceed in relation to the age group of children who have different types of needs:

0-3 years à lawn surfaces or shockproof flooring to crawl and move freely, fenced boxes. It is useful to include sessions for adults who have them in custody.
15 m2 per child are calculated.

3-9 years à lawn surfaces and soft and hard floors depending on the use.
Game paths, areas of different levels to stimulate physical activity, recreational equipment (slides, dexterity passages, tunnels). 25 m2 per child are calculated.
9-14 years à grassy fields for sports activities. Equipped paths, skating rinks and skate slides. Sports equipment (equipped and climbing walls).
We calculate the 60 m2 per boy even if in a more restricted area, typical of the neighborhood garden, the value is lower.

Thanks to the presence on the market of a wide range of playful materials and equipment, the play areas inside the gardens could be very varied.
However, in the design phase, the choice often falls on the classic serial models that favor the aspect of safety and simple maintenance, sometimes at the expense of the aesthetic one.
In a few cases, on the other hand, we opt for the use of more innovative and creative game solutions in order to obtain a strong figurative impact. These are structures that reproduce forms with a strong evocative power for the child and that refer to the world of fairy tales.
Although in Italy there is no real legislation on the safety of play structures, the design of these areas is addressed with the aim of stimulating children to creativity, movement and sociability, always ensuring safety and safety of the user.

Area ludica per gioco dei bambini

Play area where shockproof flooring, lawn and driveways alternate. Suitable for different ages
Coccinella play garden, Scampitella (AV)

In the case of the neighborhood garden, given the relatively small size, the sports area will offer a limited choice of services, if compared with that of the urban parks, which are significantly larger. In the design of these spaces, great importance is given to the physical conformation of the turf that constitutes the playing fields.
It is important to consider the aspects concerning the compositional mix, the processing and the maintenance concerning the field. Since the soil will be subject to high wear, it is preferable to choose solutions composed of aggregates and membranes capable of withstanding heavy loads and efforts. In most cases, there are one or a maximum of two functional spaces used for sports: basketball court, soccer field, tennis court, skating rink and skate ramp. In fact, based on spatial availability, the offer will be more or less wide.
Like the other functional areas, the sports area is also studied in order to guarantee safety and comfort to the user.

Although the elderly population is constantly increasing and more than any other needs for protection and leisure spaces, in the Italian panorama the issue of green areas lived by the elderly is still a little discussed topic. Often these spaces are not designed according to the real needs of this slice of users and the direct consequence is the sense of inadequacy that the users themselves experience. Poor maintenance causes material damage but also and above all psychological damage, for example when an elderly person is traveling on rough or bare paths. It is therefore essential that public areas become places of social integration and welcome different age groups who can thus share the same spaces. In this regard, the neighborhood garden is the ideal solution for older people as it is easily accessible on foot and often located near the house. It is essential that the paths that connect the green space to the rest of the city are as stable as possible, not slippery, compact and at least 0.90 meters wide. In addition, rest areas must be inserted to allow rest in part in the shade.
In any case, entrances, furnishings and internal paths must be easily accessible and fully secure. A decisive factor for the success of this type of area is to recreate environments that are as familiar as possible where the user can feel protected and at ease.
Some optimal solutions are characterized by the presence of shelters, gazebos, chairs, tables and small spaces dedicated to the game of bowls and similar sports.

Functional and furnishing elements
The composition of the neighborhood garden is determined by countless elements that must necessarily be in harmony with each other and with the environment that welcomes them.
These are units that can be fixed or mobile but which in any case must be durable over time and functional for users visiting the area.
In addition to the furniture and equipment dedicated to particular functions, in collective green spaces we often find structures inserted to remedy particular situations of discomfort. An example of this is the stairs that are inserted in correspondence with significant differences in height, must ensure stability and ease of use of the spaces. The stair tread must never be less than 28 cm wide, while the riser must not exceed 16 cm in height. Furthermore, the presence of a parapet along the entire development of the staircase is a must. The second, but not least, means of overcoming any differences in height in the outdoor area characterized by ramps. Usable also and above all by the disabled, they must respect maximum slopes and for this reason they are a little more cumbersome in extension. Finally there are the walls and fences, fundamental in the green areas to define the spaces, separate any functions and shield the views.
In the field of furniture for public gardens, today the market offers various products specifically designed to be used frequently and intensively but withstand over time. These are mostly mass-produced objects where utility and safety prevail over aesthetics and originality. Like the functional elements, also the furnishing elements must be chosen in order to recreate a unitary composition and a harmony of the whole.

Unlike in the past, when the trend was to place the seats in cozy and quiet spaces to encourage individual relaxation, today the vision of the rest area has become established as an opportunity for meeting, exchange and conversation. The design of the parking areas and the location of the seats cannot be left to chance: it is preferable to insert them near avenues and attracting poles to allow a quick visual connection with other people or with elements pleasing to the eye. The ideal would be to guarantee users the possibility of choosing between a stop in the shade, half shade and sunny. It is essential to take into account the importance of choosing the furniture components, in order to achieve a good aesthetic result.
The functionality and comfort of the seat are guidelines: for an adult, the height of the seat must be around 45 cm while the seat must be 50 cm deep. If the bench is located in a lawn area, a slight flooring or protection from the grass is necessary at the foot support. Today in the choice, we often opt for modular and modular systems that allow to obtain great flexibility and adaptability to the specific area.

You can come across the following typological solutions:
  • LINEAR ELEMENT suitable for single user
  • ISOLATED ELEMENT suitable for 2-4 single users since the back-to-back arrangement allows partial insulation. Not suitable for group conversations due to the difficult rotation movement and the small space
  • CORNER ELEMENT suitable for conversation between couples and groups

Types of seating models

Once you have chosen the type of seat, you move on to the actual composition:

ALIGNED OR PARALLEL SEATS: as the distance between the sessions changes, the possibility of conversations varies indirectly proportionally

CORNER SEATS: the distance between the two sections must be reduced in order to allow users to interact with each other

SEATS IN GROUPS: if the distance between the sessions is varied, the offer in terms of interaction will also vary

BROKEN LINE SYSTEM: responds to a variety of needs

CIRCULAR SYSTEM: suitable for single users

CURVED SYSTEM: in convex parts it responds to insulation needs while in concave parts it guarantees easy communication

Of all the products listed above you can choose materials and finishes. Today, traditional materials (wood, iron) tend to be preferred to more robust and resistant ones (galvanized steel);
the slightly higher initial cost is immediately offset by simpler and less expensive maintenance. In fact, the greater resistance to atmospheric agents and vandalism of PVC coated steel avoids the frequent repainting necessary in case of damage. From the installation point of view, the seats must be securely anchored to the ground which must be stabilized in the section below and in front. Sometimes it is necessary to have support surfaces next to the seats to allow leisure, play and study activities to take place. Especially in this case, maintenance must be assiduous and frequent in order to ensure satisfactory cleaning. To this end, special waste containers are inserted to raise awareness among the citizen of respect for the environment.

Inside the equipped green area it is sometimes possible to come across totems and signage elements that provide useful information to visitors. They indicate directions, points of interest, distances and parking lots. According to legislation, since the signals are fundamental for the optimization of the use of the place by the user, they must present written text in Braille and audio phonic buttons to facilitate the disabled.
On the market there are different models of signals differentiated according to the green area for which they are intended: large urban park, modest sized urban area, neighborhood garden.
In any case, they will be painted opaque dark green with inscriptions on special vandal-proof films to ensure better resistance.  

Increasingly in demand, storage spaces for bicycles are made up of a tubular iron supporting structure and racks in green galvanized steel. The standard dimensions of each workstation are 70 cm in length, 86 cm in height and 39 cm in width.

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