Landscape accessibility contains multiple meanings and conflicting situations. Let us exemplify it with the case of open space. Accessibility describes the qualitative meaning of open space, where open space is the environment, which by condition must have free access for everybody to use the place. More open spaces show supposedly a better quality of the urban environment, which could be reached, for example, through self-help planning, integration (Kreibich, 2000), and through community creation. It has been argued that when those qualities are missing, urbanity loses also its quality (see Borsdorf et al., 2007). For instance, a Declaration for Urban Research and Action has called for the qualitative space dis-empowering global players, making profits unsustainable, no borders for people, autonomy and social justice in everyday life and liberating the urban imagination (see Paloscia, 2004a), which all refer to the support of equalized accessibility, and thus to the communicational aspect in urban spaces. Degen (2008) has claimed that a ‘good public’ space must provide access for the economy, but also ensure the ethics of engagement and the politics of representation. Looking at the recent developments in public space for a more positive perspective, one could argue that the center for participation in these new public places is potentially stretched, as manifold ‘mobile publics’ are accessing these spaces and through their presence are shaping the everyday politics of the city.
Still many difficulties remain. According to different understandings of accessibility, there are also different demands on what constitutes a public space. In some cases the implications of the creation of private spaces may be less dramatic than claimed, because there is also real life behind the gates (see Kirby, 2008). The unsolved question still lies in the rhetoric, where it is stated, that more ‘public’ access creates better public space. The effects engendered by attempts to ‘domesticate’ violence and the promise of security through criticism of segregation, gentrification and ghettoization themselves are based on spatial politics and thus encourage the creation of new boundaries and renewed marginalization. Here the focus lies on the given discourses in defining and introducing the meanings, in stabilization and maintenance of spatial arrangements and in the hierarchization (see Berking et al., 2006, p. 9). Therefore, the purpose to give equal rights to all actors in landscape accessibility would be too idealistic. For example, religion can be politically manipulated and exploited, creating symbolic structures for one community, but can be perceived as threatening to others (Cooper, 2001). As Highmore (2005*, p. 2) argues, rendering illegibility legible in the heterogeneity, in one social environment it creates insecurity and in another social environment it creates hope (Highmore, 2005, p. 5). This means that it is impossible to find equal access to open space adaptable to all stakeholders, but the meaning of the activity (Jacobs and Fincher, 1998, p. 2) has the priority.
If one wants to define landscape accessibility, one needs to understand the institutional rights regimes, power strategies and values. It means that one needs to invest into the knowledge. This is also the condition for the communication process between the actors in landscape accessibility. For example, in the discussion of public space it is suggested, that public space and landscape should be seen as oppositional ideals that indicate how we regard the construction and purpose of the public sphere (Mitchell, 2001). In this concern the politics in places is connected with the activity in place, where place is understood as physical location and the context for action (Staeheli, 2003, p. 165). Therefore, direct everyday practice and appropriating it through material landscape are connected with the creation of accessibility (see Figure 2*).
Blomley (2005b*) brought up the important point that space is public, because the public sphere is formed, policed and contested, stressing especially the contesting layer. He emphasized the importance of landscapes of communication in claiming property, where property should not be understood as reaching individual ideas, but as the importance of communication and persuasion. The meaning of communicational conflict is shown in his studies in Vancouver, where reaching of property is based on material and visual construction of landscapes. The communicational aspect of accessibility could be effectively used, for example, by participation in the neighborhood gentrification, where different interest groups in landscape should have possibilities for offering their opinions and realize them in landscape. This is material production and discursive representation, which is often intentionally oppositional. The meaningful effect, in part, has been to inscribe different conceptions of land and ownership, which helps to open the resistance to gentrification (see Blomley, 2005b, p. 31).
To report some other good case study examples, it is easier to find studies in the context of natural landscapes, for example, the case study about the debate of water eutrophication and the fish farming industry in the Finnish Archipelago Sea in Southwest (SW) Finland. The definitions of the eutrophication problem and its spatial dimensions were thoroughly studied and the role of knowledge as a resource in the struggle over the definition is emphasized (see Peuhkuri, 2002). The participants also practiced solving conflicts yet preserving biodiversity through trying to understand the background of the conflict, and preventing it in the first place. In this study interdisciplinary manner and information exchange, early involvement of all key stakeholders, effective communication between parties, awareness raising and supported processes for their continued involvement, including feedback, monitoring and review are emphasized by the authors (see Young et al., 2005). Management tools and information exchange are beneficial, but need to be adapted carefully to each conflict (see also Adger and Luttrell, 2000).
Showing the importance of communication and agency in the urban environment, one example may be brought from a historical study about the 1970s – 1980s of the Nauwieser Viertel in Saarbrücken, a small downtown neighborhood, where it was studied how differently sub-culture projects had influenced the neighborhood’s milieu (see Metzger, 2008). From the current examples of the accessibility treated as the space of communication, one may bring in the case of Berlin, where institutional deprived neighborhood’s development projects like ‘Social City’ were created having in mind and considering the multiple voices of local residents’ ideas and opinions (see Levine, 2004). Although a lot of criticism to this project has already been made (Marcuse, 2006), it is still a good example of an attempt of institutional planning to experiment with the neighborhood planning including local residents into the planning practice.