Public Space Design Week

Parks have always provided urban dwellers with a respite from city stress, but now, as we begin to emerge from extended periods of lockdown, the puristic pleasure they offer becomes more inviting than ever.

The Xuhui Runway Park In Shanghai by Sasaki Associates was created from an old airport runway. Photo: Insaw Photography

Parklife: new green recreational spaces | News

The Xuhui Runway Park In Shanghai by Sasaki Associates was created from an old airport runway. Photo: Insaw Photography

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For those without private gardens, a group that includes myself, the local park has became a lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic. But new parks are so much more than just spaces for a walk, exercise, or a socially distanced picnic. They help provide habitats for insects and small animals, they capture and filter rainwater and can ideally form a part of a larger network of green spaces that help to make our cities more resilient and liveable.

Zizu Studio's Meifeng Community Park is a compact green space with a varied planting scheme that provides nearby residents with outdoor activities, while being easy to upkeep. Photos: Ruihua Liang

Parklife: new green recreational spaces | News

Zizu Studio's Meifeng Community Park is a compact green space with a varied planting scheme that provides nearby residents with outdoor activities, while being easy to upkeep. Photos: Ruihua Liang

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Shenzhen's Meifeng Community Park is one such space. Designed by Zizu Studio, this compact green space was created using an abandoned site that was previously used as a parking lot. Based on the concept of "openness, ecology and diversity" the park features a variety of landscape features, including a central lawn, a zig-zag running path, a children's playground, beds with wild grasses and shrubs and a communal pavilion. Together, these features create a spatially exciting, biodiverse and low-maintenance space enjoyed by children and adults alike.

IPD's formal treatment of the spatial movement through Kushan Constitution Park creates a contemplative atmosphere. Photos: Lei Sun

Parklife: new green recreational spaces | News

IPD's formal treatment of the spatial movement through Kushan Constitution Park creates a contemplative atmosphere. Photos: Lei Sun

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Of course, more formal parks are still being designed and created. Kunshan Constitution Park is located in Kunshan, one of a number of cities comprising the vast metropolitan region of Suzhou in Eastern China near Shanghai. Designed by IPD, the park is laid out along two intersecting axes that form a small exhibition pavilion detailing the history of China's constitution. From there, a long reflecting pond leads to a sheltered circular plaza that features rows of spectator seating and that can be used for official ceremonies and assemblies. Mature trees form a backdrop to this park, while grey stone paving lends the space the necessary gravitas.

BOGL Landscape Architects' design for Remiseparken shows how designers can create an urban park that combines human activity with ecological concerns. Photos: Coast Studio

Parklife: new green recreational spaces | News

BOGL Landscape Architects' design for Remiseparken shows how designers can create an urban park that combines human activity with ecological concerns. Photos: Coast Studio

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Existing green spaces can also receive a radical upgrade. In Copenhagen, BOGL Landscape Architects redesigned Remiseparken, a large park in the middle of one of the city's social housing estates. A single winding activity path made of concrete cuts across the space, connecting disparate activities, such as a skatepark, children's playground, and community garden. The park also offers wide lawns for picnics or football, while the southwestern edge of the park has a dry riverbed that fills up with rainwater during storms and features hardy ornamental grasses and shrubs that can withstand waterlogged soil.

Similar to the High Line in New York, Sasaki Associates' Xuhui Runway Park in Shanghai reuses existing transport infrastructure to bring nature into the city. Photos: Insaw Photography

Parklife: new green recreational spaces | News

Similar to the High Line in New York, Sasaki Associates' Xuhui Runway Park in Shanghai reuses existing transport infrastructure to bring nature into the city. Photos: Insaw Photography

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In Shanghai, Sasaki Associates rehabilitated an old airport runway into Xuhui Runway Park. Parts of the runway surface have been preserved to create long paths and plazas along the linear park, while different planting beds and themed gardens create a lively, colourful patchwork interspersed with playgrounds and benches. Meanwhile, a series of water features, including a rain garden and a linear wetland, provide an ever-changing habitat for birds and insects.

© Architonic

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