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Green oases: Parks of the future

MVRDV: Zhangjiang Future Park, Shanghai © MVRDV

Parks and public gardens have a long tradition as the green lung of the city. New concepts are picking up on this significance worldwide. They connect urban green areas and places of encounter with in many cases spectacular designs. A look at future-oriented ideas for the design of park areas.

As oases of peace, parks offer the opportunity to recover from urban everyday live. People can relax here, engage in dialogue, have picnics, play or do sport. Many public greens are however today in a deplorable state. Just recently, Hans Stimmann, Berlin‘s former Senate Building Director, complained about the lacking beauty of contemporary park areas. However, the situation can also be different. Especially more recent concepts for public green spaces are picking up on the traditional function of parks as places of recreation and encounter again. With creativity and farsightedness, they strive to improve the quality of life and also frequently the image of the respective environment.

New parks not only create opportunities for local recreation, but also new urban spaces. More and more metropolises are thus banking on new urban areas that connect greenery with social functions. Projects such as the Zhanjiang Future Park of the Dutch architect‘s office, MVRDV, aim to develop a social centre for their environment. The major project that is located in the Pudong district of Shanghai is being created on an island and comprises of high-quality public areas and leisure offers. The park and the urban spaces are hereby designed over two different levels and are connected with each in a complex manner.

The fact that attractive green areas can be inserted just as well into densely populated urban spaces, has become evident since the old High Line in New York was planted with greenery at the latest. The former railway became the new green path between the skyscrapers with grasses, bushes, lawn areas and pedestrian areas. The park concepts of Thomas Heatherwick cause just as much of a stir as the green overhead railway. Unfortunately though, his plan to build a garden bridge with a park-like landscape over the Thames fell threw last year due to the costs involved. A project in New York planned by the landscape design workshop, wHY Grounds, is also planned on the waterside. A linear track is to run alongside the East River on the outskirts of Manhattan and offer new park areas for leisure activities and local recreation. Even if the actual realisation of such projects is doubtful, they still make a valuable theoretical contribution towards more urban greenery.

There are also forward-looking ideas for planting greenery in public urban spaces. In Seattle, America, the new headquarters of the online trader, Amazon, which contain a mini rainforest, were recently opened. The employees and passers-by can stroll passed exotic plants under futuristic glass domes. The design for St. Erik’s Indoor Park by the Swedish architect’s office, Utopia, is based on a similar idea. As a solution for urgently needed greenery within city centres, it also suggests an ensemble of glass domes with spacious green areas inside.

A vision for the extensive area of a suburb park is to be realised in Qingdao in China from this year onwards. A spin-off of the famous Eden Project in Cornwall is to be built there by 2020. The theme of the park is based on water and in addition to lush greenery encompasses huge geodetical domes with the largest indoor waterfall in the world. The original tradition of parks as places of recreation and encounter are thus being taken to a new dimension.

wHY GROUNDS: East Midtown Waterfront, New York © Render by wHY GROUNDS

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