Innovative green spaces are re-shaping the future of urban revival, and forcing people to see cities differently.
In just a few decades, city skylines have changed almost beyond recognition. But our love of green spaces, and the importance of them in our lives, is still as important. People are finding increasingly innovative ways to build this into towns and cities.
There’s a developing school of thought that green areas hold the key to our emotional wellbeing. A recent study of more than 10,000 people found that individuals reported less mental distress when living in greener areas.
Dr Mathew White from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health says the positive effects of green space could prove substantial. He says: ‘This research could be important for learning about the effects that urbanisation and city planning have on the population.’
Some of the best examples of bringing nature to public spaces are firmly rooted in the past. La Promenade Plantée in Paris (pictured above) is a 19th Century railway line that has been converted into a green belt. It offers elevated views all the way from the Opéra Bastille to the eastern limits of the French capital.
Similarly, the High Line in New York City (see above) was once a disused freight railway. The site dates back to the 1930’s and reflects the industrial origins by using the original steel tracks – with wild flowers representing its forgotten years. The High Line spans 22 blocks, including a platform over 10th Avenue to sit and watch the city in motion.
Form and function
The Canadian city of Toronto (see above) is already offering a green roof incentive, while Paris is testing the concept on a grand scale. Europa City is a culture, recreation and retail centre between Charles de Gaulle Airport and the city centre. This project will combine a walkable green roof and a renewable energy and rainwater system, designed to offset the ecological footprint of the city.
At first glance, French designer Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden concept (see above) looks like a method to enjoy nature in an urban setting. Aesthetics aside, these works of art have underlying benefits to air quality, lowering temperatures and soaking up storm water.
Blanc’s designs climb the sides of a building similar to how they’d appear on a rockface, and can be seen in London, Paris, Madrid and Kuala Lumpur. By relying on an innovative recycled rainwater system, Blanc’s creations are self-sustaining and building friendly.
A greener future
Such sights are set to become the norm in cities, with environmental benefits now a key consideration for urban planners. So you don’t need to escape the city this summer to get your dose of green living. Dig deeper and you’ll find that there’s more to urban living than meets the eye.