Day 55 of #100dayproject: Waterscapes

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The relationship between the humanity and the water is ancient like the Earth itself. However, the societies had different feelings about it influence in their lives and infrastructure.

In general, Western Societies tend to categorize views as “natural” if the landscape content is predominantly vegetation and water, and if man-made features such as buildings and cars are absent or inconspicuous, as for example Llanquihue Lake in Chile[1]. This depiction of the wilderness illustrates humans’ deeply ambivalent relationship with nature which oscillates between romantic devotion to nature and attempts to conquer it[2]. And far too much of what passes for ecologically sensitive urban planning amounts to little more than a concession to trendiness and to that bourgeois aesthetics that likes to enhance the urban with a bit of green, a dash of water, and a glimpse of sky[3].

In a study performed in Sweden, subjects were exposed to lengthy color-slide presentations of either (1) nature dominated by trees and other vegetation, (2) nature with water, or (3) Scandinavian urban settings without vegetation or water[4]. Results from self-ratings of feelings made immediately before and after the presentations indicated that exposure to the two categories of natural scenes, especially water, had more positive influences on subjects’ emotional states[5].

The urban design has had echoes of that studies and they had adapted the “nature” to the urban spaces. One form to adapt the nature is the use of water elements into Recreation Landscapes, it does mean, destinations for commoditized play: Festival markets, themed waterfronts, and theme parks along with major stadia for spectator sport.

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The alienation of large segments of parkland for activities requiring entry fees has changed many of Lima’s passive recreation landscapes, like the Water Park in Miraflores with a full color light spectacle and traditional/modern music show, as we see in the picture above. This park creates a disneyfication effect in the city[6].

The decision of the pertinence of the “thematic parks” is completely of the reader, and this aspect is a responsibility for the residents and decision-makers. The trends in research place emphasis on community participation in identifying open space requirements, on the need for interconnectivity between spaces and communication routes, especially walking and cycling paths and the complex use of space, for example for water sensitive urban design and wildlife corridors[7].

[1] Ulrich, R. S. (1986). Human responses to vegetation and landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning, 13, 29–44. doi:10.1016/0169-2046(86)90005-8

[2] Uggla, Y. (2009). What is this thing called “natural”? The nature-culture divide in climate change and biodiversity policy. Journal of Political Ecology, 17, 79–91.

[3] Harvey, D. (2000). Megacities. Lecture 4 (p. 124). Amersfoort, Netherlands: Twynstra Gudde Management Consultants.

[4] Ulrich, R.S., 1981. Natural versus urban scenes: Some psycho-physiological effects. Environ. Behav. 13: 523-556.

[5] Ulrich, 1986, 40

[6] Zukin, Sharon. The Culture of Cities. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995.

[7] Kellett, J., & Rofe, M. W. (2009). Creating Active Communities: How Can Open and Public Spaces in Urban and Suburban Environments Support Active Living? A Literature Review (pp. 1–70). Institute for Sustainable Systems and Technologies – University of South Australia to SA Active Living Coalition. Adelaide, Australia.

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