In cities, inhabitants’ quality of life within a specific neighborhood is directly influenced by their living environment. Urban green spaces are one of the crucial elements for this quality of life. Numerous scientific studies support that the presence of such spaces contributes to inhabitants’ physical and psychological well-being. More recently, research has highlighted the importance of urban green spaces on our social capital and our behavior by highlighting their potential to increase the attention paid to others, to facilitate collective engagement and to reinforce “prosocial” tendency to help and assist others. However, access and attendance to urban green spaces remain uneven and correlate with the neighborhood wealth.
A psychosocial diagnosis was carried out in Seraing in order to determine whether existing green spaces contribute to quality of life of the neighborhood, while seeking to better understand obstacles and levers to their use. To meet these objectives, the Seresian’s opinions were surveyed by questionnaires to collect a large amount of data for statistical purposes, but also deepened by direct and open exchanges with inhabitants and actors in the field.
The results of this study show that currently, green spaces in the centre of Seraing do not contribute to quality of life in the neighborhood. They are either unknown to residents (Bernard Serin Park), or perceived as unsightly, unsafe and poorly attended (Morchamps Park and Marêts Park). The analyzes shows a significant impact of the perception of these spaces on the emotional attachment that inhabitants develop towards these places and, consequently, on their frequentation.
Although these spaces image reflects direct experience of Seresians, it is also the result of inadequate institutional communication, leaving a lot of room for informal communication carried by beliefs and "they say" about these places. This study demonstrates the importance of rethinking the use of these spaces, so that they can meet residents’ needs and provide opportunities for regular activities.
Currently the green spaces are mainly used as shortcuts and do not seem to promote physical activity, mental restoration or social interactions (although this should be qualified for the youngest).
Transforming Seraing’s green spaces into daily life places would allow to increase the security feeling, to decrease vandalism behavior and increase emotional attachment to the places.
Then, only as a second step, it will be necessary to review these spaces aesthetic layouts. The objective for the coming year, within the framework of ‘A Place to Be-Come’ project, will be to determine, in a concrete way, the most likely interventions to improve relationship between Seresians and these green spaces, which are just waiting to be valued.
This social psychosocial diagnosis was presented to political stakeholders and associations at the beginning of 2021 through a virtual conference. The exhaustive study can be requested from our project partners Psykolab and University of Liege.