Park facilities stimulating social interaction in Wilhelminapark and Griftpark in Utrecht
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By bringing diverse people together, urban parks give a possibility for new social interactions to emerge. However, contacts with strangers are fairly rare. Various studies have shown that facilities can influence odds of occurrence of social interactions. What is more, social contacts play a role in creating social cohesion. The research studied capacity of various facilities to stimulate social interactions among parks’ users and their relationship with social cohesion. The study was based on quantitative methods such as structured observations and questionnaires. The sample size was 2071 of the former, and 100 of the later. SPSS was used to analyse the data. The research was conducted in two parks in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The parks are various in terms of their design and available facilities. The main findings showed that among all visitors’ characteristics age had the greatest impact on a park use. Perception of social cohesion was not related to the frequency of interaction, but it was related to the willingness to interact (including perceived possibility of interaction). Except facilities specific to the studied parks, the greatest odds of occurrence of social interaction were found in using ‘recreational facilities’ and ‘grass’. Further interdisciplinary studies are necessary in order to find the most suitable spatial characteristics and design solutions encouraging social interactions.