Productive Parks: an instrument for the co-production of peri-urban landscapes

Authors and Affiliations: 

Dr.-Ing. Axel Timpe, Chair of Landscape Architecture, RWTH Aachen University

Corresponding author: 
Dr.-Ing. Axel Timpe, Chair of Landscape Architecture, RWTH Aachen University

Peri-urban areas are subject to numerous and diverse interests and pressures. The distinction between urban and rural gets more and more blurred, the description of this process by Sieverts in the 1990ies (Sieverts 1997) is still up to date. While the peri-urban built areas can be characterized as architectural divers, but structured in a monofunctional way, the open spaces need to cope with the overlay of diverse use interests in multifunctional peri-urban landscapes. Agriculture as their traditional land use has to cope with the interests and expectations of urbanites who consider the agricultural landscape as a resource for i.a. leisure, biodiversity, organic food production and view peri-urban landscapes as an extension of the urban public space. In reaction to this, the past two decades have seen the emergence of the agricultural park or productive park as a new planning instrument to coordinate this new demand with the existing land use. These parks re-discover an initial role parks played in their history: being a laboratory for coordinating, innovating and optimizing land use together with the esthetic functions of the landscape. How these parks integrate biobased production in their landscape architectural design and how they make converge the different demands in space has not been analysed on a broad empirical basis yet.

The research to be presented fills this research gap based on case studies of 16 productive parks in Europe. 11 of these parks are located in peri-urban areas and are intended as strategies to preserve farmland. According to how they organise multifunctionality, the productive parks can be classified in different spatial typologies. On the organisational level, co-production has been identified as the most important approach for the creation and maintenance of productive parks as a common good. In the parks that were analysed, it can be found on different levels, starting from joint production and rising to co-design and actual co-production and finally community co-production as the highest level. The study clarifies the roles of stakeholders on the different levels of co-production.

The parks analysed and the modes of co-production teach how farmers can turn the inconveniences and concurrencing demands for landscape in peri-urban areas into competitive advantages by developing business models that can provide for the new needs of the urban dwellers. From the case studies several farmsteads that have redesigned their historic buildings and environment to accommodate new users and functions on the farm will be presented by analytical drawings.
As a result of the research productive parks can be considered laboratories for peri-urban agriculture. The experiences made here and the associated business models may serve as a model for adapting farming in peri-urban landscapes to contemporary and future challenges.


Sieverts, Thomas (1997): Zwischenstadt. Zwischen Ort und Welt Raum und Zeit Stadt und Land. Braunschweig: Vieweg (Bauwelt-Fundamente, 118 : Städteplanung, Urbanistik).

Timpe, Axel (2017): Produktive Parks entwerfen. Geschichte und aktuelle Praxis biologischer Produktion in europäischen Parks. Dissertation. RWTH Aachen University, Aachen. Lehrstuhl für Landschaftsarchitektur. Available online:

Timpe, Axel; Cieszewska, Agata; Supuka, Jan; Toth, Attila (2015): Urban Agriculture goes Green Infrastructure. In: Frank Lohrberg, Lilli Licka, Lionella Scazzosi und Axel Timpe (Hg.): Urban Agriculture Europe: Jovis, S. 126–137.

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