Green space
Space age

Research shows that access to green space correlates with better mental health and lower rates of mortality, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. With space at a premium, the definition of parks is evolving. Kath Hudson reports

By Kath Hudson | Published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

Tourist Attraction - Houston Botanic Garden

Location: Houston, Texas
By: West 8

West 8 is working on a project in Houston, Texas. The city is undergoing a revamp of its green space, with new and enhanced parks being added and the creation of a 240km system of connected linear parks along the natural system of bayous. As part of this green renaissance, the development of a botanic garden is also underway.

“The Houston Botanic Garden [HBG] will preserve and enhance 120 acres of green space just a few miles from the centre of Houston’s urban core,” says Nancy Abendshein, chair of the HBG board. “When established, it is expected to attract thousands of visitors a year, including schoolchildren from across the region, area residents, horticulturalists and scientists and tourists to the city. Economic impact is expected to exceed US$20m every year.”

Work is expected to begin in early 2018. West 8 is teaming with a number of consultants and designers in Houston, including Clark Condon Landscape Architects and Walter P Moore, ETM Associates and environmental experts Berg-Oliver. The property, which spans Sims Bayou, has a mature tree canopy and is a prime example of Gulf Coast habitat. The masterplan will take advantage of the site’s topography and features.

 



Thousands of visitors a year are expected to visit the Houston garden
 


Houston Botanic Garden
 
Vertical forests - Wanfeng Valley resort

Location: Guizhou province
By: Stefano Boeri

A wave of architects and landscape designers is pushing the limits of how far nature can be integrated with the built environment. Several have adopted the vertical forest model of architecture, in which trees and greenery climb the outside of structures.

Italian architect Stefano Boeri specialises in such green design methods and is using them for a series of hospitality projects in China, including a “lifestyle destination” resort in Guizhou Province with trees on every terrace.

The building – the centrepiece of Cachet Hotel Group’s Wanfeng Valley resort – will feature a 182-room Cachet Resort Hotel and a 71-room URBN hotel, two restaurants and lounges, a swimming pool, spa and a fully equipped fitness centre. Boeri told Leisure Management that vertical forests – which he described as a “continuous experiment of cohabitation” – promote wellness and create sustainable urbanisation in towns and cities.

“Multidisciplinary research has enabled us to develop the building technologies to bring trees very high up in the sky in and around our structures and irrigate them with recycled water,” he said. “This advancement, alongside ongoing analysis of the vegetation that can thrive in these special environments, is allowing us to conceive unique buildings specific to their locations.

“The result is new spheres, where people, trees and animals can coexist in an environment of wellness. It induces sustainability and a relationship of symbiosis between man, architecture and nature.”

 



This 182-room lifetyle resort in China will have plants and trees on every terrace
 


Stefano Boeri specialises in green design and how to grow trees around high-up structures
 
Linear parks - Seoul Skywalk

Location: Seoul, South Korea
By: MVRDV

The Seoul Skywalk project, next to the city’s central station, is building on the city’s green ambitions. A 938m elevated section of former highway will become a walkway and public space, populated with 254 species of trees, shrubs and flowers to create an arboretum of local species and a library of plants (planted in alphabetical order) to be enjoyed by Seoul’s public.

MVRDV is leading the project and director, Winy Maas, says this will change the daily lives of many people in Seoul for the better: “They will have a pleasant shortcut through a green oasis in the midst of all the traffic and concrete. It is a walk through a park, a living dictionary of the natural heritage of Korea, connecting the city dwellers with nature.”

It is slated to open in April 2017. Construction has already begun, and a visitor centre, showing 3D animations of the project, has been erected to engage with the community and gather feedback on the design.

 



Seoul Skywalk is being built where a section of highway once was
 


Winy Maas, of MVRDV, says the park will greatly benefit the people of Seoul
 
 


Winy Maas, of MVRDV, says the park will greatly benefit the people of Seoul
 
Linear parks - Peckham Coal Line

Location: London, UK
Feasibility study by: Adams & Sutherland

This community-led project aims to breathe new life into some South London coal sidings, which were decommissioned in the 1950s. This 1km elevated urban park will provide valuable green space in the midst of an industrial area and, by linking two parts of the national cycle route, it could also create an almost green route from Brixton to Rotherhithe and possibly on to Canary Wharf in the future.

Following a 2015 crowdfunding campaign, a design and feasibility study, led by Adams & Sutherland, is underway to work out what would be possible, the technical and engineering side of the project, as well as exploring funding and business model options for the running and maintenance of the park.

Spokesperson Louise Armstrong predicts similar projects will come on stream going forward: “We get a lot of requests from other local projects looking to use crowdfunding – as well as community groups from all over looking to learn from our experience. The latest was a city in Finland.”

 



Breathing new life into some South London coal sidings
Linear Parks - The Miami Underline

Location: Miami, Florida
By: James Corner Field Operations

A pop-up preview of James Corner Field Operations’ Miami Underline has opened to showcase how the landscape architects plan to transform the disused land beneath the city’s MetroRail into a 16km linear park.

The pop-up is located at the Underline’s ‘Brickell Backyard’ fitness area at the north end of the Miami River. It includes a mini gym, a yoga area and park designs.

Picnic areas, native vegetation, a nature-inspired playground, a dog park, a basketball court and art installations will be added to the site later to form the Brickell Underline Park. Other Underline segments will follow; similarly combining urban trails, cycle and pedestrian paths, green leisure spaces and a showcase for art.

Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez has said the Underline will connect communities, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage residents to walk, bike or ride transit as an alternative to driving. The scheme is part of the county’s Masterplan Greenway network that consists of around 800km of trails and connected public spaces.

 



James Corner is pioneering the Underline project set to transform Miami
Regeneration Project - The Hills on Governors Island

Location: New York
By: West 8

The transformation of a former military base into a public park was completed in July. Dutch architects West 8 masterminded the regeneration of Governors Island, a short ferry ride from Manhattan and Brooklyn, into a landscaped tourist destination. Four hills were created, rising above the island to offer 360-degree views of the city’s harbour and the Statue of Liberty.

Recycled demolition debris, general fill and lightweight pumice was used to make the hills, which are stabilised with geotechnical reinforcement and covered with grassy lawns, trees and shrubs. The highest, Outlook Hill, features granite blocks which visitors can climb up.

Slide Hill features the longest slide in New York and Discovery Hill features a cabin sculpture designed by British artist Rachel Whiteread, a concrete cast of a New England-style shed. The fourth, Grassy Hill, also provides a viewing platform.

“Sculpted topography works in concert with winding pathways and trees to create, conceal and reveal vistas, choreographing the park experience,” says design director Adriaan Geuze, co-founder of West 8.

The completion of The Hills follows the opening to the public of 30 acres of parkland in 2014, which comprised places for play and relaxation, including two natural turf ball fields, a maze and hammocks. Plans are in the pipeline for a European-style hydrotherapy spa at the site.

 



Four hills were created to facilitate 360-degree views of the New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty
 


Four hills were created to facilitate 360-degree views of the New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty
 
 


Discovery Hill features a cabin sculpture designed by British artist Rachel Whiteread
 
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2016 Review

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Leisure Management - Space age

Green space

Space age


Research shows that access to green space correlates with better mental health and lower rates of mortality, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. With space at a premium, the definition of parks is evolving. Kath Hudson reports

Kath Hudson

Tourist Attraction - Houston Botanic Garden

Location: Houston, Texas
By: West 8

West 8 is working on a project in Houston, Texas. The city is undergoing a revamp of its green space, with new and enhanced parks being added and the creation of a 240km system of connected linear parks along the natural system of bayous. As part of this green renaissance, the development of a botanic garden is also underway.

“The Houston Botanic Garden [HBG] will preserve and enhance 120 acres of green space just a few miles from the centre of Houston’s urban core,” says Nancy Abendshein, chair of the HBG board. “When established, it is expected to attract thousands of visitors a year, including schoolchildren from across the region, area residents, horticulturalists and scientists and tourists to the city. Economic impact is expected to exceed US$20m every year.”

Work is expected to begin in early 2018. West 8 is teaming with a number of consultants and designers in Houston, including Clark Condon Landscape Architects and Walter P Moore, ETM Associates and environmental experts Berg-Oliver. The property, which spans Sims Bayou, has a mature tree canopy and is a prime example of Gulf Coast habitat. The masterplan will take advantage of the site’s topography and features.

 



Thousands of visitors a year are expected to visit the Houston garden
 


Houston Botanic Garden
 
Vertical forests - Wanfeng Valley resort

Location: Guizhou province
By: Stefano Boeri

A wave of architects and landscape designers is pushing the limits of how far nature can be integrated with the built environment. Several have adopted the vertical forest model of architecture, in which trees and greenery climb the outside of structures.

Italian architect Stefano Boeri specialises in such green design methods and is using them for a series of hospitality projects in China, including a “lifestyle destination” resort in Guizhou Province with trees on every terrace.

The building – the centrepiece of Cachet Hotel Group’s Wanfeng Valley resort – will feature a 182-room Cachet Resort Hotel and a 71-room URBN hotel, two restaurants and lounges, a swimming pool, spa and a fully equipped fitness centre. Boeri told Leisure Management that vertical forests – which he described as a “continuous experiment of cohabitation” – promote wellness and create sustainable urbanisation in towns and cities.

“Multidisciplinary research has enabled us to develop the building technologies to bring trees very high up in the sky in and around our structures and irrigate them with recycled water,” he said. “This advancement, alongside ongoing analysis of the vegetation that can thrive in these special environments, is allowing us to conceive unique buildings specific to their locations.

“The result is new spheres, where people, trees and animals can coexist in an environment of wellness. It induces sustainability and a relationship of symbiosis between man, architecture and nature.”

 



This 182-room lifetyle resort in China will have plants and trees on every terrace
 


Stefano Boeri specialises in green design and how to grow trees around high-up structures
 
Linear parks - Seoul Skywalk

Location: Seoul, South Korea
By: MVRDV

The Seoul Skywalk project, next to the city’s central station, is building on the city’s green ambitions. A 938m elevated section of former highway will become a walkway and public space, populated with 254 species of trees, shrubs and flowers to create an arboretum of local species and a library of plants (planted in alphabetical order) to be enjoyed by Seoul’s public.

MVRDV is leading the project and director, Winy Maas, says this will change the daily lives of many people in Seoul for the better: “They will have a pleasant shortcut through a green oasis in the midst of all the traffic and concrete. It is a walk through a park, a living dictionary of the natural heritage of Korea, connecting the city dwellers with nature.”

It is slated to open in April 2017. Construction has already begun, and a visitor centre, showing 3D animations of the project, has been erected to engage with the community and gather feedback on the design.

 



Seoul Skywalk is being built where a section of highway once was
 


Winy Maas, of MVRDV, says the park will greatly benefit the people of Seoul
 
 


Winy Maas, of MVRDV, says the park will greatly benefit the people of Seoul
 
Linear parks - Peckham Coal Line

Location: London, UK
Feasibility study by: Adams & Sutherland

This community-led project aims to breathe new life into some South London coal sidings, which were decommissioned in the 1950s. This 1km elevated urban park will provide valuable green space in the midst of an industrial area and, by linking two parts of the national cycle route, it could also create an almost green route from Brixton to Rotherhithe and possibly on to Canary Wharf in the future.

Following a 2015 crowdfunding campaign, a design and feasibility study, led by Adams & Sutherland, is underway to work out what would be possible, the technical and engineering side of the project, as well as exploring funding and business model options for the running and maintenance of the park.

Spokesperson Louise Armstrong predicts similar projects will come on stream going forward: “We get a lot of requests from other local projects looking to use crowdfunding – as well as community groups from all over looking to learn from our experience. The latest was a city in Finland.”

 



Breathing new life into some South London coal sidings
Linear Parks - The Miami Underline

Location: Miami, Florida
By: James Corner Field Operations

A pop-up preview of James Corner Field Operations’ Miami Underline has opened to showcase how the landscape architects plan to transform the disused land beneath the city’s MetroRail into a 16km linear park.

The pop-up is located at the Underline’s ‘Brickell Backyard’ fitness area at the north end of the Miami River. It includes a mini gym, a yoga area and park designs.

Picnic areas, native vegetation, a nature-inspired playground, a dog park, a basketball court and art installations will be added to the site later to form the Brickell Underline Park. Other Underline segments will follow; similarly combining urban trails, cycle and pedestrian paths, green leisure spaces and a showcase for art.

Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez has said the Underline will connect communities, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage residents to walk, bike or ride transit as an alternative to driving. The scheme is part of the county’s Masterplan Greenway network that consists of around 800km of trails and connected public spaces.

 



James Corner is pioneering the Underline project set to transform Miami
Regeneration Project - The Hills on Governors Island

Location: New York
By: West 8

The transformation of a former military base into a public park was completed in July. Dutch architects West 8 masterminded the regeneration of Governors Island, a short ferry ride from Manhattan and Brooklyn, into a landscaped tourist destination. Four hills were created, rising above the island to offer 360-degree views of the city’s harbour and the Statue of Liberty.

Recycled demolition debris, general fill and lightweight pumice was used to make the hills, which are stabilised with geotechnical reinforcement and covered with grassy lawns, trees and shrubs. The highest, Outlook Hill, features granite blocks which visitors can climb up.

Slide Hill features the longest slide in New York and Discovery Hill features a cabin sculpture designed by British artist Rachel Whiteread, a concrete cast of a New England-style shed. The fourth, Grassy Hill, also provides a viewing platform.

“Sculpted topography works in concert with winding pathways and trees to create, conceal and reveal vistas, choreographing the park experience,” says design director Adriaan Geuze, co-founder of West 8.

The completion of The Hills follows the opening to the public of 30 acres of parkland in 2014, which comprised places for play and relaxation, including two natural turf ball fields, a maze and hammocks. Plans are in the pipeline for a European-style hydrotherapy spa at the site.

 



Four hills were created to facilitate 360-degree views of the New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty
 


Four hills were created to facilitate 360-degree views of the New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty
 
 


Discovery Hill features a cabin sculpture designed by British artist Rachel Whiteread
 

Originally published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

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