Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities
Professor Gordon Waitt
Knobel, Hayden, Making Sense of Urban Parks: In Wollongong City Centre,
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities,
University of Wollongong, 2014.
In a policy context of healthy, sustainable and livable cities, the urban parks are a key research agenda in the social sciences, with the notable exception of human geography. This thesis aims to help fill this gap in the literature by combining quantitative and qualitative methods to provide a benchmark survey of how apartment dwellers make sense of Wollongong city centre parks as part of their everyday life. The thesis draws on a survey of 340 respondents and 18 semi-structured interviews conducted with apartment dwellers in Wollongong city centre, a regional city on the east coast of Australia. The survey results explore the trends of park use, value and experiences. Then, using John Wiley's concept of landscape phenomenology, insights are provide to how participants make sense of city centre parks. Attention is given to explaining how and why MacCabe Park stands out as a problematic space, the tensions between city centre parks valued as inclusive public spaces and desire for regulation and exclusion, and the city centre park as an 'escape' from the everyday.