By Tracy Metz
The designers call it ‘a park for physical distancing and short-term solitude’. This is the ‘Parc de la Distance’, conceived by Fei Tang Precht, Chris Precht and Andreas Stadlmayer of Studio Precht which is located is the isolated mountains of Austria. (Their words). The Parc is their response to the corona crisis and the widely felt need for a place to reflect and escape – if only for the twenty minutes it takes to stroll from start to end of your lane.
Even though the premise of the design is the need for people to stay away from each other – the new eulogism is ‘social distancing’ – the inspiration is that uniquely human thing: the fingerprint. Parallel lanes guide the visitor through the park. At first sight it looks like a labyrinth, but there are no confusing shortcuts. Rather the Parc de la Distance is reminiscent of the wavy patterns of a Japanese zen-garden: the paths slowly spiral towards a center, where fountains are placed.
Every lane has a gateway on the entrance and exit, which indicates if the path is occupied or free to stroll. The lanes, all about 600 meters long, are separated by hedges of 90 centimeters wide. Sometimes visitors are fully immersed by nature, other times they emerge over the hedge and can see across the garden. As they stroll, they might hear footsteps on the neighboring paths. But at all times, they keep a safe physical distance to each other. And post-corona, the park will remain as an urban oasis.