We all know Central Park, Hyde Park and Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, but there are lots of other exciting and unique urban parks around the globe. Here are five examples, all with distinct features and characteristics, so let’s get some inspiration for the pipeline:
Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain
Built between 1900 – 1914 and designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, Park Guell is best known for its monumental precinct, featuring colourful whimsical buildings and structures. The park was intended as a private park for a housing development nearby. However, the project was unsuccessful and the park became property of the city of Barcelona in 1923 and has been open to public ever since. Park Guell is a centrepiece of Catalan Modernism and one of Gaudi’s most famous pieces. It’s a playground for the mind: visual jokes, like columns that simulate palm-tree trunks, rubble-surfaced arches that grow out of the ground, quilts of ceramic tiles. (1)
Namba Parks, Osaka, Japan
What makes Namba Parks, a shopping mall built in 2003 in the footprint of the old Osaka baseball stadium, stand out is not what’s inside, but rather what’s on top. The mall’s figurehead is the eight level rooftop garden that features not only tree groves and lawns, but also streams, waterfalls and ponds, cliffs and canyons, and even a veggie garden. (2)
The park is a small green oasis in a dense city with little nature. Due to its altitude, the park is highly visible within the sea of skyscrapers it is located in. However, the sloping park also connects to the street, making access to is easy. (3)
English Garden, Munich, Germany
The English Garden in the heart of Munich was built in the late 18th century and was Europe’s first public garden. Today it is one of the largest urban parks worldwide and offers a variety of attractions, including an urban surfing spot in one of the streams running through the park, a nude sunbathing area, as well as the city’s second largest beer garden featuring more than 7000 seats arranged around a giant Chinese pagoda. (4)
Due to it’s central location and set up, the English Garden is a meeting place for locals and tourists alike. The park features a 78-kilometre long network of paths which is popular among joggers and cyclists, and has vast open spaces frequently used to play sports of all kinds. (5)
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore
Though with only 400 acres relatively small, the slopes of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are home to 40% of the region’s tropical flora and fauna. Visitors will find fig, rattan and other tropical trees and can observe praying mantises, flying squirrels and pangolins right in the middle of Singapore’s highly urban landscape. The park leads up to the summit of Singapore’s highest point, offering some great views over the city. (6)
Olmsted Parks, Buffalo, USA
Created in 1896 by Frederick law Olmsted, the creator of the famous Central Park in New York, the Olmsted Parks are the USA’s first interconnected system of parks. Olmsted’s idea was to integrate a network of green space with the city, so that it’s residents would never be far from nature. He believed that green spaces would refresh and delight the eye and through the eye, mind and spirit.
Today the park system consists of six parks and several smaller green spaces, that are linked with each other and the rest of the city through a number of vast parkways. The parkways were designed to enable visitors to travel between the parks without leaving the serenity of these green spaces. Through Olmsted’s work, Buffalo became known as the œcity of trees. (7)
These are only five examples, but we can clearly see that great parks can have all shapes and sizes. What makes these parks great and successful is how they reflect and support the individual characteristics of each city, and how they incorporate the needs and preferences of its users.