Urban Greenspace Functions

Jan Mukarovsky (1891 – 1975), a Czech structuralist and aesthetic theorist, developed a model in 1937 that attempts to better understand how the built environment responds to people’s needs. The model contains five functions: the immediate; the historical; the personal; the social; and the aesthetic.

The infographic suggests how Mukarovsky’s model might be applied in an assessment of urban greenspace. The concepts in each red pentagon illustrate what could be considered in each function.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

Urban Greenspace Functions infographic

Mukarovsky's model

The theoretical model that Mukarovsky developed considers the relationship between form and function. The model considers the place of the built environment in society from the point of view of the user or community. The aim is to achieve a better appreciation of how the built environment responds to the social and psychological needs of people.

The model considers the backdrop of culture and tradition, and looks to the future impact and economic value of the urban spaces that are created. However, Mukarovsky recognised that circumstances may change and that the functions of the built environment might also change as a result. Therefore, the built environment needs to be continually re-assessed to take such changes into account.

Analysing the form and function of greenspaces in the context of their surroundings, history and their place in society, could help to understand them as places, rather than just areas of open land. Thus, the model may be able to give a different perspective on how greenspaces perform in urban areas and help to evaluate the quality of our built environment.

Infographic design

In the infographic, each of the five functions is represented by a geometric shape. For example, ‘the immediate’ is denoted by a square. All five shapes are then combined within the central pentagon to provide a symbol that encapsulates the model. Combining the shapes within the symbol underlines that the functions are all connected and can have an influence on each other. All the shapes are contained within the central pentagon, which represents the model bringing the different functions together so that they are considered as a whole.


Hauffe, T. (1998). Design. A Concise History. Laurence King Publishing, London.

Mukarovsky, J. (1937) “On the Problem of Functions in Architecture.” In Structure, Sign and Function, Selected Essays. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978, 236-250.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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