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A Look at the Highfalutin Ideas for the Parks of Tomorrow

A snapshot of the world's future parks—whether under construction, awaiting approval, or funded via Kickstarter and championed by attention-craving mayors—reveals the proposed greening of some pretty surprising spaces. The last few years of our post-High Line park design one-upmanship have yielded renderings of parks on man-made islands, parks on river-spanning bridges, underground parks in converted trolley stations, and parks dotted with temperature controlled biodomes. Below, marvel at the most impressive and odd of these would-be green spaces:

↑ A joint project between the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago Parks District is seeing Chicago's Northerly Island razed and rebuilt as a man-made nature preserve. The preserve is expected to have a soft opening this fall, with reshaped habitats rolled out to the public leading up to the estimated 2017 completion date.

↑ Described by its designer Thomas Heatherwick—he of carving an art museum into some old silos in Cape Town—as "basically just two big planters," a kind of "guerrilla gardening" akin to tossing two giant seed-bombs into the Thames, London's proposed Garden Bridge started off back in 1998, as a dream of actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley to see a memorial bridge created for Princess Diana. Parodied by the gleeful architectural troublemakers of FAT in a proposal for a crossing etched with the lyrics to Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," the idea was revived last year with the addition of Heatherwick, and thanks to attention from development-friendly London mayor Boris Johnson, who pledged £30M ($51M) of his own transportation budget and secured an additional £30M from the Treasury, the plan for the fungal-chic green bridge is currently in the review stage, with the aim of having it built by 2018.

↑ Another bit of naturific Heatherwick craziness has been proposed for Abu Dhabi in the form of a 30-acre canopied park that, from above, resembles a cracked patch of a sun-baked desert soil. "Instead of denying the presence of the desert that the city is built on," says Heatherwick, "we set ourselves the task of making a park out of the desert itself." With plans for cafes, community gardens, a public library, recreational spaces, public pools, and saunas, Al Fayah Park currently has a projected completion date of 2017.

↑ Riffing off of New York's High Line, engineer-turned-architect James Ramsey teamed up with tech exec Dan Barasch and hedge funder R. Boykin Curry IV to propose turning an unused Chelsea trolley station into a subterranean park called (wait for it) the Lowline. One wildly successful Kickstarter campaign later (funds were used to build an operating model, pictured above, of the "remote skylight" technology that would make it possible), and the proposal seems to have lost a bit of steam.

↑ So-called "maverick masterbuilder" Bjarke Ingels last year proposed a sloping, triangular viewing platform for the waterfront area of NYC's Brooklyn Bridge Park. The project still needs approval from the Public Design Commission, and to raise $8M in private funding, but NYT archicritic Michael Kimmelman is such a fan that he wants to eat "the humongous Tostito," which "[creates] a visual anchor for that end of the park as well as for the riverfront" and "would become a perch from which to look not just over the harbor but also back at Brooklyn."

↑ Adding to the growing list of High Line-reminiscent projects around the globe is Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas' winning proposal to build a 1.8-mile elevated park over a railway in the city of Bari. Existing buildings on the site will be redeveloped into a public library, an exhibition space, and a number of municipal offices.

↑ Yes, Moscow is getting its own High Line. The city is also getting a rather futuristic-looking green space by High Line architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, containing four glassed-in "microclimates." Initially proposed by Russian president Putin back in 2012, the transformation of the area will result in Moscow's first new park in half a century.


· The Five Most Anticipated New Parks Chicagoans Can't Wait For [Curbed Chicago]
· Thomas Heatherwick reveals garden bridge designed for River Thames [Dezeen]
· Thomas Heatherwick greens the desert with Al Fayah Park [Design Boom]
· These 5 Futuristic Parks May Transform NYC's Landscape [Curbed NY]
· New Designs For Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6?Revealed! [Curbed NY]
· Moscow Is Building Its First New Park In 50 Years [Gizmodo]
· All Outdoors Week 2014 coverage [Curbed National]