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Abstract

The public demand for urban parks, citizens’ use and habits are different in every age and region. But do public parks have some eternal, unchanging values in a field of social welfare? Can we regard the idea as a value, which brought to life the 18th century public park movement in today’s rushing, tinsel and digital world? Can we find any general aspect in park use forms, which is true, even to the casual visitor or a tourist in a historical garden or a daily guest in an average city park. The Budapest Városliget is one of the world’s first urban park, in some ways perhaps the first. The site was used for urban recreation from mid-18th century, and then the city of Pest decided to develop a public park to increase the livability of the city. The plan was drawn up by Heinrich Nebbien between 1813–1816. Although Nebbien’s plan realized partly due to the lack of resources, in the capital’s life the Városliget have been acting – with changing functions and space structure – as a vital part of the open space recreation for 200 years. This article focuses on the role of urban public parks, and analyses the relationship between changing space structure and use on the example of Városliget. The Városliget analysis is based on the structural and park user surveys, which were made during the last three decades. The history of the urban park clearly illustrates that cramming new functions beyond the historical outdoor recreational activities has not increased the value of the park, but significantly deteriorate what is value and what makes the park loveable. It is almost understandable that the park is not on the international tourism program, it does not appear on the map of the capital’s iconic creations, institutions. But it could be there. Everything predestines for it: two centuries of history, the idea of its birth and creation, its location in the city structure, its current old and valuable trees. The Városliget is a value in itself, without stuffing and subsuming with new institutional functions.
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