How planning and designing public space can support outdoor recreation

A sustainable and healthy way of living calls for cities planned with opportunities for outdoor recreation. How can we manage to plan smart cities where an increasing need for large numbers of housing is combined with great opportunities for outdoor recreation?

A dominant and increasing part of the population live in urban areas. At the same time national ambition is to develop better opportunities for outdoor recreation to improve public health. The benefits of outdoor recreation are undisputed and have been proven time and time again to consist of improved overall health and individual wellbeing.


To be able to provide sufficient public space for urban outdoor recreation we need to recognize the wide variety of activities outdoor recreation consists of and to understand their spatial demands.


  • Protected natural areas close to city centers for experiences of “undisturbed” nature and traditional outdoor recreation activities. When size and senses matter.
  • Green public space close to home for easy accessibility and everyday activities. A low threshold makes a difference to make it happen.
  • Paths and walkways leading all the way from home, connecting different smaller public spaces to a big easily accessible whole.

These are just a few examples of public space strategy for outdoor recreation. To build an attractive city for outdoor recreation we need a holistic planning strategy on a city level and relevant planning instruments that focus on outdoor recreation must be developed.

The large park we have designed in the project Årstafältet, Stockholm Stad, is an important starting point for the urban development of the area. The green park meets the demands for providing opportunities for outdoor recreation close to the home.

To provide sufficient public space for urban outdoor recreation we need to recognise the wide variety of activities outdoor recreation consists of and to understand their spatial demands.

Our concept for a new park in Kiruna - The combination of limited available space and the diversity of urban outdoor recreation, requires multifunctional spaces.

Uppsala is one of the fastest growing cities in Sweden. The challenge now is the need for 30,000 new living units within the next few decades. New means of transportation and new secondary city centers will change the way life is lived in the city. If outdoor opportunities are to become part of an attractive future Uppsala, planning must take place now and it must be structurally strong and tangible.

  • What natural areas will complement Å-riket, Stadsskogen and Hågadalen as protected urban nature in a fast-growing Uppsala?
  • Where do we complement the new city fabric with integrated parks and other urban space for outdoor activities the way Vasaparken, Stadsträdgrården, Källparken and others work today?
  • How do we manage to connect new and old living areas to public space attractive for outdoor activity? We need strategic paths that can complement Å-rummet along Fyrisån.

Walking is the most popular form of recreation, attractive paths linking houses to parks and green spaces are an essential part of a successful city. In this picture: our landscape project Östra Ågatan, Uppsala.

Come join us for creative session with Uppsala and outdoor recreation in focus.
See you Feb 8!


Mattias Nordström & Emma Butler, White Arkitekter

White Arena - February 8 in Uppsala

White Uppsala host our seminar series “Arena” on a regular basis for discussing relevant planning issues in Uppsala. It is an open source influenced activity where we invite planners, clients, colleagues and national authorities. On Feb 8 the topic will be ‘Planning cities and designing public space for urban outdoor activities’. It will include general speeches by researchers, planners, national authorities and NGOs in the outdoor sphere, as well as a workshop with Uppsala in focus.

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