Qualitative research as a perspective for urban open space planning

In the twentieth century, German open space planning was based mainly on quantitative arguments. The recent change of attitudes and ideas in society and space has led to a discussion of ‘quality instead of quantity’ in politics and landscape architecture. However, this alteration has until now remained focused on concrete objects without grasping the changed nature of the general purposes and concepts of open space in an urban landscape. These fundamentally changed relationships are the topics of research in the social, cultural and economic sciences with the help of specific – so called qualitative – methods. In the largest possible spectrum of perspective considerations, that which is under investigation is not submitted to inductive measurement or deductive derivation, but to ‘abductive’ interpretation. In this approach, with the help of certain technologies, unknowns are searched for and a new structure of relationships is being developed. In doing this, qualitative science not only affects the understanding of the cultural context, but also, because of its methodological requirements, the ideas behind landscape architecture. Using Berlin as an example, a process of qualitative open space planning is introduced, with which contemporary, structural qualities and purposes of open space are defined and categorized. Although the categories stemming from these qualitative methods have a narrow regional context, the methods of this  investigation and their perspectives are applicable for other cities as well.