Friday, September 20, 2013
The Atlantic Cities Blog looks at how Vienna takes gender into account when it re-designs urban spaces:
Following completion of Women-Work-City, city officials turned their
attention to Vienna’s network of public parks and commissioned a study
to see how men and women use park space. What they found was surprising. The study, which took place from 1996 to 1997, showed that after the
age of nine, the number of girls in public parks dropped off
dramatically, while the number of boys held steady. Researchers found
that girls were less assertive than boys. If boys and girls would up in
competition for park space, the boys were more likely to win out.
City planners wanted to see if they could reverse this trend by changing the parks themselves. In 1999, the city began a redesign of two parks in Vienna’s fifth district. Footpaths were added to make the parks more accessible and volleyball and badminton courts were installed to allow for a wider variety of activities. Landscaping was also used to subdivide large, open areas into semi-enclosed pockets of park space. Almost immediately, city officials noticed a change. Different groups of people -- girls and boys -- began to use the parks without any one group overrunning the other.