Widening the lens: Understanding urban parks as a network

Nooshin Torabi, Jo Lindsay, Jonathan Smith, Lee-Anne Khor, Oscar Sainsbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing urbanisation and city development has raised the need for our public spaces to provide multiple benefits for the environment and communities. In this paper, we review of the literature on urban parks and report on an empirical study of a co-design process. We found from our review that discipline-specific literature tends to focus on singular park issues rather than considering parks as part of a network. There is a research-gap in addressing the inter-relationship of the many factors influencing the quality and performance of urban parks and in examining multiple parks together. There is a need for an applied framework for assessing how well parks perform in a collective network, and with respect to multiple social and environmental outcomes simultaneously. This research sought to address the gaps identified through a co-design process conducted with multi-disciplinary researchers and professionals from Local Government Authorities (LGAs) who are responsible for design and maintenance of urban parks in Melbourne, Australia. From the co-design process we found that LGAs rarely operate beyond the park by park focus but were aware of the need to understand parks as networked socio-ecological entities providing both green and social infrastructure in cities. Drawing on the LGAs applied knowledge, this research proposes a new methodology and framework for assessing parks as networks of high-quality green spaces that support human well-being and biodiversity simultaneously. Our multi-disciplinary approach, and the resulting Park Network Index, demonstrates how a broader lens could be employed in urban park research and park assessment tools.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102527
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Urban parks
  • Strategic planning
  • Co-design
  • Green infrastructure
  • Systematic literature review
  • Assessment tools
  • Socio-ecological systems

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