Urban Osmosis

No longer the leftover land in urban fabric, open space is updating its role as the figural nucleus of urban form, reaching beyond its boundaries to shape communities.

landscape, public space, open space planning, parks, urbanism


Eric Tamulonis


Danielle Capozzi, Mami Hara


Brittany Coyle

Urban osmosis provides
a chance to rethink open
space design.

Park design is breaking down the division between nature and culture, both inside and outside park boundaries. Urban osmosis provides a chance to rethink open space design.

Cell membranes admit viable nutrients—like water and oxygen—and block toxins—like poisons and destructive microorganisms. Park boundaries can be seen to function similarly. For example, pedestrians, water, and light would be allowed in, while excessive vehicles and incompatible land uses would be kept out. This process is a fundamental strategy of urban osmosis: healthy elements permitted, inappropriate practices denied.

The concept of selective permeability can reach from the urban square to the regional greenway. There are numerous scenarios where favorable edge conditions could operate like a cell membrane: complete streets park frontage roads rather than the backs of private residences or industrial uses; greenway network extensions rather than disconnections; habitat patch and corridor connectivity rather than fragmentation. Additionally, with careful design of park interfaces, the influential reach of parks can be expanded to promote the stabilization and increased valuation of adjacent neighborhoods.

New Jersey Capital Park Master Plan | Trinity Lakes Park Design
Floyds Fork Greenway Master Plan | Red Mountain Park
North Camden Waterfront and Cramer Hill