Urban Green Space Indicator

Map of Zurich

Understanding the accessibility and experience of urban green spaces allows decision makers to make informed evaluations of a city’s amenities. The method behind creating maps which show real life accessibility (through walking distance) and likely experience (via noise and activity levels) is featured in a series of interactive maps from the University of Zürich. Four maps of two urban areas show the difference in urban green space accessibility for mobility-impaired people and not mobility-impaired people, including classification into leisure and recreation spaces. 

MSc students from the University of Zürich have created four maps which show the accessibility of leisure and recreational urban green spaces for not mobility-impaired people and mobility-impaired people in two areas of Switzerland. These maps used approximations of walking time to categories accessibility of a space as divided into 0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 minutes walking distance. The interactive maps allow the viewer to compare the two different urban areas. Zürich has a unique location on Lake Zürich and numerous recreational areas. It is also the largest city in Switzerland. Fourteen kilometres east is the city of Uster. This city is less populated and features fewer amenities. 

The methods for creating these maps are discussed by the students and would be replicable for most urban areas. Uniquely, because this research compares leisure and recreational urban spaces as accessed by someone walking rather than ‘as the crow flies’, urban planners are able to grasp the real life experience of the local community. The measures of noise and green space allow the viewer to compare places which provide respite against those with busier space. Creation of maps similar to these enables urban planners to systematically review where additional urban green spaces would be beneficial to the wellbeing of the population. This method also makes it possible to differentiate if this space should be designed to be active and busy or more peaceful and restorative. 

Learn more: Urban Green Space Indicator (

Francesca Boyd