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Keeping in mind the rules of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Precht, an Austria-based design studio has come up with a spiral maze-like park design, which would allow people to be outdoors while maintaining social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
This idea has been proposed for a vacant plot in Vienna, where all other major parks like Schönbrunn or Belvedere have been shut due to coronavirus.
The labyrinth called 'Parc de la Distance' resembles a fingerprint from above and consists of lanes that have been distanced 240cm from each other with a 90cm-wide hedge for the division. The reddish granite gravel pathway contrasts with the green lush surroundings while alerting visitors to other people around just by the sound of their footsteps against the rocks. An individual journey is about 600m long. The height of the plants differs along the journey. Sometimes walkers are fully immersed while at other times, they can see the movement of people around them.
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Talking about the geometric choices in an interview with Fast Company, Chris Precht, co-founder of the firm, says that the spiral is essential, and that this type of geometric choice favours introspection.
"Sometimes visitors are completely immersed in nature, sometimes they emerge above the hedges and can see the whole park," says the architect. “But they always keep a sufficient safety distance between them.”
The park has taken inspiration from the wavy patterns of a Japanese zen garden which follows a path towards a centre with fountains. Once they have reached, they continue to circulate outwards.
Precht believes that, after the pandemic, the park could still serve as an urban oasis for the citizens. “There is a beauty in solitude and in connection to nature that people in the city often miss,” says Precht, who lives and works in a rural area in the Austrian mountains. “I don’t know when I have ever been alone in the city. I think that's a rare quality. But sometimes you have to get away from everything to fully reconnect,” says Precht.
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"You have to get lost from time to time to find something," he adds. "For that, we meditate, we hike or we make silent retreats. This park is a short version of it all...City centres should not be defined by their real estate, but rather by their real escape. By possibilities that allow us to escape to nature. Instead of banks, traffic and office blocks, city centres should be redesigned by parks, wilderness and plants. The lack of nature is an issue of many urban areas and I hope that the Parc de la Distance can offer an escape.”
Even though the park is a proposal for Vienna, Precht hopes that this concept could provide a much-needed escape for residents around the world.
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