In recent years, many developed cities have taken an active approach to creating green space. Do you think these efforts are sustainable?
A number of cities are starting to restore and reconnect the natural systems within their cities. Some of this is more advanced planning, some in response to competition (e.g. the European Commission Green Capital Awards), some in response to citizens, some in relation to climate change and etcetera. The future test will be how the city responds to ever increasing population. In Singapore green space is now being integrated into high-rise buildings. Green space systems have been recognized as contributing to city climate change resilience (including cooling effects, cleaner air) and they also support non-vehicular circulation systems (in conjunction with public transport like trams) that are safer and more enjoyable than congested road systems.
In your opinion, how do urban parks and open spaces contribute to improving social interaction in cities?
Public parks are social levelers, whether sitting on the beach or playing soccer, it does not matter who is who. Good park design and use management or facilitation caters for social situations, such as events, supporting club use, playgrounds with social places for parents, outdoor aerobics or dance, cafes, etcetera.
What does your ideal urban park look like?
There is no such thing, but it should respond to the local culture and natural environment. They may be in broad categories with an emphasis on natural systems, such as coastline and streams; sport or community; play or bikeways; or outstanding geography or cultural heritage. In general, the integrity of natural and cultural resources, circulation and information systems, compatible uses, reduction of risks, and basic conveniences should feature.