Precht designs Parc de la Distance for outdoor social distancing

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Austria-based studio Precht has designed a maze-like park divided by high hedges that would allow people to be outdoors while maintaining social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Precht, founder of studio Precht, designed the Parc de la Distance following numerous public, outdoor spaces around the world closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"The project started with a couple of questions regarding this pandemic," he told Dezeen.

"What would a park look like and how would it function if it takes the rules of social distancing as a design guideline. And what can we learn from a space like this that still has value after the pandemic."

The park would have numerous routes divided by 90-centimetre-wide hedges to maintain a safe physical distance between its visitors. Arranging the paths in a finger print-shaped swirl pattern creates many routes that can be used simultaneously.

Each of the red-granite gravel paths through the park would be around 600 metres long and circulate visitors from the edge of the park to the centre, where fountains would be located, and back round.

Gates on the entrances and exits to each of the routes, which would take around 20 minutes to walk, would indicate if a route is occupied.

"I see the origin of the design in French baroque gardens," said Precht. "A strong order of plants. Hedges that create geometrical shapes."

"But there is also an inspiration drawn in Japanese Zen-gardens. Circular movements. Raking of gravels that centre around corner stones," he continued.

The park is proposed for a vacant plot in Vienna, where the famous Schönbrunn and Belvedere parks are currently closed.

Although Precht designed the park in response to the current coronavirus outbreak he believes that a social-distance park would be a beneficial environment for cities after the pandemic.

"For now, the park is designed to create a safe physical distance between its visitors," he explained.

"After the pandemic, the park is used to escape the noise and bustle of the city and be alone for some time. I lived in many cities, but I think I have never been alone in public. I think that's a rare quality."

Precht believes that following the pandemic people will appreciate outdoor spaces and seek escapism from the bustle of cities more than before.

"But I think this pandemic has taught us that we need more places to get away," he explained.

"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," he continued.

"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."

Precht is an Austria-based architecture studio established by Chris and Fei Tang Precht in 2017. The pair were two of the co-founders of Penda in China in 2013.

Precht has recently designed a modular housing system that could support vertical farms and a modular treehouse that looks like a cartoon character.

Precht designs Parc de la Distance for outdoor social distancing