As city dwellers have flocked outside during the pandemic, some cities have shut down urban parks because of fears of overcrowding—at a time when people could most use the mental and physical health benefits of green space. A new design, proposed for a vacant lot in the city of Vienna, shows how a park could allow for social distancing.
Called “Park de la Distance,” from the Austria-based design firm Studio Precht, the concept guides visitors on a solitary walk around a maze-like path on parallel lanes separated by hedges. Together, the paths form a spiral, an “appropriate geometry” according to Studio Precht founder Chris Precht, who likens the walk to “a path to your inner self.”
Only one person can enter each lane at a time, with a gate at the entrance and exit of the lane showing if it’s occupied; each walk takes about 20 minutes. After the pandemic, the park could continue to serve as an urban oasis. “There is a beauty in solitude and in connection to nature that people in the city often miss,” says Precht, who lives and works in a rural area in the Austrian mountains.