Could Hedge Mazes Be the New Public Park Norm?

One design firm has some interesting ideas for what the park of the future could look like.

More than ever, we've all started to deeply appreciate the value of public parks, especially for urban dwellers who may otherwise not have easy access to nature. But in light of the coronavirus crisis, it's clear that the way we savor time in our great public park spaces will change, at least for the immediate future. Some parks, like Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, which has painted social distancing circles on its grounds to keep people at a safer distance from each other, have already began implementing changes to the park experience.

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Studio Precht

Now, Precht, an architecture studio based in the rural mountains of Austria, has shared a unique model of what parks could look like to both enhance public health efforts and also still be a bucolic oasis. In a post shared earlier this spring on Instagram, which has since garnered attention in media outlets like Architectural Digest, the company wrote: "A park that provides solitude to citizen. To spend a walk of 20 minutes without seeing anyone. Focusing on your inner self, your thoughts and your mind." Dubbed "Parc de la Distance," the hedge maze-inspired design could help park visitors remain socially distanced while remaining an idyllic escape for all who visit.

"The main purpose of the park is to get away for a little while from the noise and hustle of the city," said architect Chris Precht, who created the design with architects Fei Tang Precht and Andreas Stadlmayr, in the Architectural Digest article. "On one level the park should connect people to green, and on another it should connect people to themselves. You walk the park in solitude—you and your thoughts. I think that sometimes it's important to disconnect yourself from your surroundings to be able to reconnect afterward."

On social media, comments on the design idea were mixed. Some commenters chimed in with an eager, "I want to take a walk in here!" and "That's a great goal! A me-time," while others responded with "I would not know how to get out" and "a little depressing." Click through the photos below to see what Precht had in mind.

Readers, we'd love to hear your thoughts: Do you like these potential park designs? Could you see yourself enjoying spending time in a park like this in the future? A book, a solo picnic, and an afternoon in the local park labyrinth, perhaps?

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