The Village Green is a coveted feature of Traditional Neighborhoods, both Old and New. It is, however, a neighborhood element that requires careful calibration, like many other features of a successful neighborhood.
As an Urban Enthusiast (or Urbanist) and Landscape Architect, I occasionally find myself conflicted. The natural tendency of a Landscape Architect is to desire more land and open space for which to be landscaped or remain natural. On the other side of the spectrum, the Urban Enthusiast desires the creation of place in the form of density, therefore minimal passive space otherwise unaccounted for in daily activity. The balance for me is to build for a good population first, and provide a complimentary landscape around that population. The energy of a place is dependent upon its surrounding environment. In other words, when the surrounding environment is full of people, it is much easier to have a place worth being.
With this in mind, the Village Green should accommodate circulation, a place to congregate, and select features carefully calibrated to the needs and desires of the place. Each should be designed for multiple functions. When an area of a Village Green or park is designed for a single use, it is an inappropriate and inefficient use of the land resource and therefore more land is consumed. Because of this, our country’s Village Greens and Neighborhood Parks are often over-sized. As Americans, we have the consumptive mentality that desires large areas for things such as soccer fields or passive recreation. We desire to accommodate this in each Village Green or park. These larger areas, which are often water- and maintenance-intensive, are generally more appropriate for the regional park.
There are formulas for establishing the appropriate size of a park; usually each municipality has one. However, I don’t believe that such a formula can really provide for the needs of the community unless it is individually calibrated for the community. All neighborhoods, communities and population sets are not created equally.
As a general rule, if you think that your Village Green or park design might be too big, it probably is.
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