City planners from Seattle to Seoul are dreaming up some remarkable designs for future parks. It seems after years of neglect, we are finally recognizing how critical green spaces are to the economic, environmental and social lifeblood of cities.
In New York City alone, the Bloomberg administration made $5 billion in capital investments in the city's parks over his tenure. It's part of a growing philosophy that every urbanite should have access to green space.
“Just having one big park somewhere in the city is no indicator of anything really," said Jonathan Woetzel, a director at McKinsey and sustainable cities expert. "What matters is being able to have some green in your life every day.”
So what will a day in the park look like in 20 years?
Here’s a glimpse at some of the biggest trends shaping the parks of the future around the world:
Parks Will Get Built Underground:
Lowline - New York City
When crowded cities like New York run out of space, sometimes the answer lies beneath our feet. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the LowLine's creators are working with the MTA and the city to convert an abandoned, underground trolley station into a state-of-the-art, solar-panel-illuminated, $55 million park.
Popdown - London
Similar to the Lowline, Pop Down would repurpose an abandoned network of tunnels under London to create a park and mushroom farm.
Ghost Metro Stations - Paris
Paris already uses some of its abandoned metro stations for homeless shelters and movie sets, but now a new Paris mayoral candidate has proposed a bold reuse of some subterranean spaces. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has an idea to leverage some of the city's "ghost" stations to create Paris' next tourist attractions -- from pools to art galleries to nightclubs. Oui, s'il vous plaît.
Parks Will Be More Synchronized With Nature
Northerly Island - Chicago
Northerly Island sits right off the coast of Chicago's downtown Loop area. Over the next 20-30 years, Northerly is being rebuilt to accommodate big crowds while minimizing ecological impact. The island's power will come from wave and geothermal power, and the space will feature wetlands and reefs, providing a new sanctuary for birds and fish.
Gardens By The Bay - Singapore
The spectacular "Gardens By The Bay" have become a marquis feature of Singapore. This massive, waterside park features a range of groves, forests, conservatories and event spaces. The park helped transform Singapore from the "Garden City" to its new status of "City In A Garden."
+ Pool - New York City
This floating pool in the East River aspires to be "a giant strainer dropped in the river." Its walls would filter out bacteria and allow the river water to flow through the pool.
Previously Abandoned Spaces Will Be Reimagined:
Berlin Tempelhof Airport - Berlin
This airport played a key role in WWII and during the pivotal Berlin Airlift of the Cold War. However, after Germany decided to consolidate its air transit to one main airport in 2008, Tempelhof was converted into a public park nearly as big as Central Park.
HighLink - San Francisco
Highlink is a proposed walkway that repurposes an abandoned stretch of Interstate 280 in San Francisco as a park with panoramic views of the city.
Kulturpark - Berlin
Kulturpark was a Cold War-era theme park on the outskirts of Berlin. It was since abandoned, and the forest has grown among the decaying rides. Now, a group of German artists are attempting to refurbish the space for creative projects and public use.
The Lines Between Public Parks And Private Spaces Will Blur
Seoul Commune 2026 - Seoul
A proposed project in South Korea hopes to merge private residences with a grand public park. By constructing gardens all over the tops, sides, and bottoms of the towers, Seoul Commune would blend ecology with efficiency.
Cascade - Hong Kong
You won't need a lot of space to create a cool park in 2034. Consider how the Edge Design Institute repurposed what would have been a mundane stairway to make a vibrant public feature with benches, plants, and lights.
Parks Will Become More Mobile
Parkcycle - Baku (Azerbaijan)
A park on wheels? Yes, it's a real thing in Azerbaijan, where the Rebar Group, a design group, recently debuted their "parkcycles." The "lawns" can accommodate two riders and provide much-needed green space in congested concrete jungles.
And Even Companies Will Get In On The Park Bonanza
Amazon Biodome - Seattle
Check out the renderings for Amazon's new headquarters in downtown Seattle. These remarkable "biodomes" will incorporate a cycle track, dog park and retail stores into Amazon's buildings. The inside of these glass orbs will be a mixture of work space and many plants and trees.
Facebook's West Campus
Facebook, too, is getting in on the eco-campus movement. The tech giant contracted renowned architect Frank Gehry to design an expansion of its Menlo Park headquarters. They'll surely "like" the park on the roof.