Vol. 20 No. 2 (2023): Time

Contradicting parochial realms in neighborhood parks: How the park attributes shape women’s park use

İpek Kaştaş-Uzun
Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Izmir University of Economics, Izmir, Turkey
Fatma Şenol
Department of City and Regional Planning, Faculty of Architecture, Izmir Institute of Technology, Izmir, Turkey

Published 2023-07-31


  • Gender,
  • Land-use design,
  • Neighborhood park,
  • Park design,
  • Parochial realm

How to Cite

Kaştaş-Uzun, İpek, & Şenol, F. (2023). Contradicting parochial realms in neighborhood parks: How the park attributes shape women’s park use. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 20(2), 381–396. https://doi.org/10.58278/0.2023.18


Neighborhood parks are significant green public spaces located in close social and geographical proximity to homes to maintain individual and public health. However, some people do not use the nearest parks, but those with other socio-spatial attributes that make them feel more “familiar”. This study argues that with their facilities, amenities and design, and the surrounding land uses, neighborhood parks do not only accommodate, but also define, regulate, and originate social relations among users. Thus, the design and planning of urban public spaces play a role in the emergence and maintenance of supportive and conflictual relations that lead to familiarity. The study answers two research questions: How do the park attributes shape and mediate the interpersonal relations among the park users? How do gender differences influence the parochial realms in parks? Data was collected through field observations and in-depth interviews with 33 female users of two neighborhood parks in a populous district of Izmir (Turkey). Results state that women’s park visits were related to their gendered roles and responsibilities. Yet their responses point to challenges emerging from physical and social attributes of parks and park surroundings which lead to negotiations to protect their individual or group’s privacy (parochial realm) in neighborhood parks. Mainly, perceived threats to women’s parochial realm are men unaccompanied by child(ren), and exposure to the male gaze. The study highlights the importance of investigating these attributes of neighborhood parks for developing research and public policies to improve women’s presence and perceived safety in public settings.