Urban Parks and Bike Lanes of the Future
With climate change, declining biodiversity, increasing urban sprawl and rising cost of land seriously threatening green spaces around the world, will tomorrow’s pioneering urban parks and bike lanes be found in the sky, on water and underground? This month’s article explores some of the most unique and creative concepts for designing urban parks and green spaces which address these issues, while contributing to the ideal of living on the earth in an eco-friendly, sustainable way - today and in the future. If you're thinking of creating a green space you can also search 'green' on CADdetails.com to view an assortment of products that can help you with your project.
Nordhavn Islands by C.F. Møller Landscape
C.F. Møller Landscape recently won an international design competition for an innovative new urban park near Copenhagen, Denmark, pictured above. Located in Nordhavn, a new waterfront city district undergoing transformation from an active industrial port into an attractive mixed-use development, the project fully embraces the Øresund strait, which forms the border between Denmark and Sweden, with programming in, on, and even under the water! The nature-infused project will serve as an innovative learning, activity, and water landscape for both the public and the adjacent Copenhagen International School, also designed by C.F. Møller.
C.F. Møller Landscape’s competition-winning vision applies a radical transformation to the existing site that currently acts as a barrier between the waterfront and harbor. The landscape architects reconnect the urban fabric with the harbor basin by inserting three distinct man made “islands” in strategic locations with access to and from the Copenhagen International School. Each of the three islands has its own unique programming, influenced by the school’s ground floor activities and proximity to either the sports hall or school canteen. “The Lagoon” floating arena will be used for watersports such as kayak polo and boating; “The Sun Bath” offers a protected space for swimming and a sauna; and “The Reef” is a multifunctional space with outdoor seating and an educational space for aquaculture that acts as an extension of the quayside.
Each of the floating circular islands will be ringed by free-growing aquatic vegetation to ease the transition between built landscape and nature, and act as both a habitat for wildlife and a “natural safety zone” for young children. Ramped waterfront promenades encircle the perimeter of the platforms and connect to bridges that link all three islands. According to the designers, the project has tremendous potential as a community generator, with the water encouraging activity, and as a social trigger, which will bring life and atmosphere to the area, and thus link the new school with the city and the city with the water.
The unique Nordhavn Islands are slated for completion by 2017 to coincide with the opening of the 270,000-sq ft solar-powered Copenhagen International School, which is set to be the largest school in Copenhagen. The unusual school building will be clad with 12,000 solar cells and consist of four sections adapted to the different age levels, with a communal base featuring a canteen, library and sports facilities, which will also benefit the surrounding city.
Endless City by SURE Architecture
SURE Architecture, a Chinese firm with offices in London, England, has unveiled ambitious plans for a futuristic ‘space-saver’ skyscraper which could house thousands of people and even its own ecosystem.
Appropriately known as the Endless City, the conceptual 300-metre mixed-use skyscraper is imagined as a daring vertical city that would extend London's existing neighborhoods high up into the sky, thanks to a pair of interwoven ramps that wind up around the perimeter of the building.
According to the designers, the building could accommodate residential communities, businesses, schools and shopping areas, and even huge parks and public plazas. The intertwining ramps would be connected to each other by a series of bridges and walkways, facilitating as much pedestrian traffic as possible. Shops located along the ramps would be much the same as they would be on the ground, being free to customize their front façade in any way they see fit. Structural support for the towerwould be provided by six steel tubes, which would also house plumbing and electrical work for the majority of the building.
To meet zoning requirements, the remarkable skyscraper, which resembles a multi-layered sandwich, would narrow at its base and spread its coiled “streets” outward at its crown. This would also allow sunlight into the center of the tower and allow for naturally lit parks and plazas within the massive building. Its shape and orientation is also optimized to reduce the need for artificial lighting, as well as mechanical cooling and ventilation.
While SURE has earmarked a location for Endless City on the outskirts of the City of London, England, the project is still very much in the drawing board stage, and it remains to be seen whether it will ever be built. What is certain however, is that projects of this sort will be increasingly common, with urbanization and population growth projected to proceed at such a pace that the world will add one new city of a million people every five days between now and 2050!
Copenhagen Gate by Steven Holl, Denmark
Denmark loves its bike lanes – so much so, they’re even thinking about building one on top of a skyscraper! Copenhagen Gate is a spectacular plan to link disparate parts of the Danish capital’s regenerating harbor, using a suspension bridge designed especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s the bridge’s supports that make it groundbreaking. The span will hang between a pair of mixed residential and office towers located on opposite piers at the harbor mouth.
Designed by American architect Steven Holl, the bridge will cross between the towers, which are named Langelinie and Marmormolen, not at water level, but at a height of 213 feet. This elevation will provide spectacular views of the city and create a new visual gateway to Copenhagen for passengers arriving at the city’s cruise ship terminal. According to Steven Holl Architects' design approach, the design for the dramatic new harbor entrance to the great city of Copenhagen is based on a concept of two towers carrying two bridges at two orientations all connecting back to the unique aspects of the site’s history. The Langelinie site, a berth for ocean ships for decades, is expressed in the Langelinie tower with geometry taken from the site’s shape.
A prow-like public deck thrusts out to the sea horizon. This deck is the level of public entry to the bridge elevators and has public amenities such as cafes and galleries. It can be reached by a wide public stair as well as escalators. The Marmormolen tower connects back to the City with a main terrace that thrusts out towards the city horizon shaped by a public auditorium below. It can also be reached by escalators and is adjacent to the public bridge elevator lobby.
Each tower carries its own cable-stay bridge that is a public passageway between the two piers. Due to the site geometry, these bridges meet at an angle, joining like a handshake over the harbor. The soffits below the bridges and under the cantilevers pick upthe bright colors of the harbor; container orange on the undersides of the Langelinie, and bright yellow on the undersides of the Marmormolen. At night the uplights washing the colored aluminum reflect like paintingsin the water.
After winning a 2008 competition by unanimous decision and a Progressive Architecture award in 2010, Holl’s twin towers and bridge are finally due to start construction in 2016 or 2017.
Al Fayah Park by Thomas Heatherwick, Abu Dhabi
In Abu Dhabi, where oppressive summer temperatures can regularly reach 118°F, hot days spent in the great outdoors don’t hold quite the same allure as they do other,more temperate places around the world.
London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick has ambitious plans to change that, maximizing the benefit of an urban park while minimizing the costs associated with building and maintaining it. His studio has released plans for the development of Al Fayah Park, a major piece of public land in the city. Rather than exhausting vast supplies of energy and water to create a grass-covered, European-style park in the desert, Al Fayah’s design is inspired by the patterns that form on a parched desert landscape. So, instead of wilting in the sun, visitors will rest in an underground park, shaded by a 65 ft-high platform designed to resemble desert crust.
This perforated canopy of partial shade will protect a lush landscape of plants and trees from the most searing effects of the sun and provide a naturally cooled outdoor environment for residents to gather and picnic, as well as a place for learning and festivals.
The designer envisions that Al Fayah Park – Fayah means “shade” in Arabic – will eventually be home to cafés, play spaces, a library, pools and streams, as well as date palms and community vegetable gardens, forming a series of vibrant interconnected public recreational spaces.
To reduce the nation's carbon footprint, Heatherwick has also opted to mix concrete from desert sand, eliminating the need to rely on imports. Furthermore, the shade provided by the rooftop will also reduce the amount of desalinated water needed to irrigate the plants underneath by restricting evaporation.
Construction of the park is due to be completed in 2017. Heatherwick is best known in Britain for designing the London 2012 Olympics cauldron, new London bus and the UK’s 2010 Shanghai Expo “seed cathedral” pavilion.
According to the Project for Public Spaces, the model for tomorrow’s urban parks, bike paths and green spaces, centers around the potential to not only use these places to contribute to learning to live on the earth in a more sustainable way, but also to attune them to local values, ecology and cultural perceptions of beauty.