The Significance of Spaciousness: an investigation of spaciousness in the context of the residential yard

Detta är en avhandling från Lund Institute of Technology

Sammanfattning: The new interest in density displayed by professional town planners and town-planning researchers is related to the present densification of the urban environment in many towns and cities. Research on densification is primarily concerned with the link between urban form and sustainable development. The point of departure of this thesis is to consider what a denser housing environment will mean to people in their everyday lives and the main purpose is to discuss the significance of spaciousness to open space quality in multi-family housing.

The empirical investigation was performed as a case-study with six cases. Three cases involve housing of low to medium density built during the urban building explosion of the 1960s known as “the Swedish million-program era”. They are typical of post-war multi-family housing with three-storey slab blocks. The other three cases are of higher density and were completed during the early 1990s. These housing developments have a more traditional block structure.

The significance of density is discussed in relation to the four different functions or “roles” of open space that appeared in interviews with tenants : the yard as open space close to the house and the home; the yard as a meeting place; the yard as a place for children’s play; and the yard as a place to get aesthetic experiences and contact with nature. These four roles constitute four different contexts for the significance of spaciousness.

The significance of spaciousness stands out mainly in connection with the so-called active use of the courtyards. The scope of space becomes important in the on–site use, when the inhabitants are in the yards, especially when the yards are used for children’s play. The importance of space is more complex in relation to other aspects of outdoor pleasure. I maintain that the smaller courtyards from the 1990s offer their residents a lesser degree of potential use than the more spacious ones do. The less spacious courtyards I will call a reduced offer in comparison to the model of “folkhemsgården” (a green yard as a self-evident aspect of housing in the construction of the welfare society), that is introduced in the discussion. The planners, architects and landscape architects of the housing developments of the 1990s had no common image of how to handle the spatial demands of outdoor environments close to home. When considering the small courtyard as a design assignment, it becomes clear that models that contains a vision about everyday life are needed.