Though the 2012 Olympic Games have come to a close, the landscape of London’s East End has been dramatically transformed for the long-term utilizing a ecologically-based design approach that has much in common with the Freshkills Park master plan.
According to The Dirt, nearly 250 acres of formerly-industrial land were turned into a beautiful setting for the Olympic venues inspired by Victorian and post-war English pleasure and festival gardens. The landscape design, by LDA Design and Hargreaves Associates, incorporated hillocks with views of the surrounding city, stormwater management practices including bioswales and rain gardens, and new bio-habitats such as wildflower meadows, wetlands, and wet and dry woodlands. The site designers even had an Olympic Park Biodiversity Action Plan to attract native species like kingfisher, sandmartin, and European eel! The River Lea, which flows through the site, was previously canalized, but now benefits from wider, more natural banks. All of these designed landscape improvements contributed to the 2012 Olympics being heralded as the most sustainable Olympic Games yet.
Many of the same types of interventions are being incorporated into Freshkills Park, as the former landfill site is transformed into an expanse of rolling hills and restored woodlands and wetlands. Many of the native flora and fauna have already begun to return to the site!
The Olympic site in London will now be converted to public park land. James Corner Field Operations (the landscape architecture firm that created the master plan for Freshkills Park) has re-designed a 55 acre piece of the new public park, set to open in 2014 as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. According to inhabitat.com:
The redesigned Olympic Park will include a 12-metre wide tree-lined promenade that will open up to a series of outdoor “rooms”, separated by tall grasses. These active spaces will host a classic carousel, an amphitheater and a play space with a climbing wall. There will also be spaces reserved for picnics, concerts and other events.
(via The Dirt)
After the success of The Highline in New York, it seems that every city is now attempting to transform abandoned or underused public spaces into lush urban parks. Treehugger has reported on the recent developments in unusually located parks, the latest being the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas. The 5.2 park, which is set to open this fall, is currently being constructed over a busy highway. The park itself will be built upon a deck-like structure, providing the surrounding neighborhood, and the city at large, with much needed public recreation spaces, including a pedestrian promenade, gardens, restaurants and performance pavilions.
While Klyde Warren Park represents Dallas’ admirable commitment to the revitalization and creation of urban green space, Treehugger duly notes that an even more enivronmentally and innovative friendly plan would have been if the city of Dallas had opted to convert the entire highway into a park, as they have done in Seoul, Korea.
The City of Seattle is implementing an innovative program to protect their reservoir water supply and create 76 acres of new open space. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has already replaced five open reservoirs with underground structures – a system that both improves water quality and provides better security for the water supply – and an additional project is in the works. Seattle Parks & Recreation (Parks) is working to eventually transform the new open space into “full-fledged parks.”
As part of the program, SPU covers the new underground reservoir structures with a layer of drain rock, soil, grass and other low maintenance plants so the community can use the additional open space immediately. Parks will then work with the community to create master plans for the parks, which will move forward when funding becomes available. The total costs for converting the Beacon, Myrtle, Maple Leaf and West Seattle Reservoirs is estimated by SPU at $150 million. A portion of the funding comes from the 2000 ProParks Levy.
(via Seattle Public Utilities)
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) will be holding a FREE public event at 105 Water Street, Staten Island on Saturday, July 28th. Visitors will have a chance to preview the site-specific submissions to the 2012 LAGI NYC design competition, while also learning more about the interaction between renewable energy technologies, land art and public art. Attendees will get to take home a complementary copy of the LAGI publication, A Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies. We’re excited to see all the submissions and hope to see you there!
An interesting experiment in water pollution management is taking place in the Bronx River estuary near Hunts Point in New York City. Scientists are testing the use of a ‘Mussel Raft’ for addressing nitrogen pollution from treated sewage that ends up in the water from a nearby treatment facility.
Mussels are known for their filtration properties and are being tied to lines on the raft to assist in water filtration. Non-edible ribbed mussels were chosen in the hope they would not be harvested to be eaten. The mussels filter about 1.6 liters of water (0.4 gallons) every hour. Find the full story in The New York Times.
A new method for lighting spaces adjacent to urban waterways uses renewable energy powered by water currents. The ‘Light Reeds,’ from New York City-based Pensa, mimic the reeds you might find along creeks or other natural waterways and provide a more ambient light source than harsh street lights. The Light Reeds are powered by the water currents and an underwater rotor, and even sway with the currents. There’s a video of the innovative sustainable lighting product.
‘Renewable energy can be beautiful.’ That is the tagline for the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) international design competition. The open LAGI competition calls for ideas to “design a site-specific public artwork that also functions as clean energy infrastructure for New York City.” This year the contest partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the site is within the 2,200 acre Freshkills Park on Staten Island. There is a $20,000 jury-awarded prize and a related $1,000 design prize for high school students. The competition opened January 1, 2012 and will close on July 1, 2012.
Mayor Bloomberg and several City of New York agencies recently released The Wetland Strategy report, which outlines plans to protect and improve city waterways. The report contains strategies to address goals in PlaNYC 2030. Among the 12 initiatives are plans to:
- invest $48 million in projects that restore and enhance nearly 127 acres of wetlands and neighboring areas,
- add 75 acres of wetland to the New York City Parks system,
- create the natural areas conservancy to encourage a public-private partnership for wetlands management,
- create a wetlands mitigation banking or in-lieu fee mechanism for public projects.
Freshkills Park, featured on the report’s cover and throughout the document, contains approximately 360 acres of wetlands and is about to begin a 2 acre wetland restoration pilot project in North Park.
(via City of New York)
In an attempt to draw attention to the dearth of greenspace and poor air quality in the region, the nonprofit VerdMX has constructed three ecostructures throughout Mexico City. One such structure is a vertical garden of over 50,000 plants.
Formerly notorious for its poor air quality, Mexico City is now an example of successful campaigns by policy makers, environmentalists, and various other groups to improve the city’s air. The VerdMX structures aim to generate interest in the movement while improving the air at the same time. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, 30, architect of the sculptures states that “it’s a way to intervene in the environment.”
The burgeoning entrepreneurial, environmental, and arts scenes in the capital city have given rise to numerous small-scale efforts. Though sometimes met with hesitation, such projects are becoming commonplace as citizens recognize the importance of maintaining environmental health in the megacity.
(via New York Times)
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) team recently announced the release of their Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies, a free resource they hope will prove useful to “all designers, homeowners, urban planners, students, artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and anyone else interested in a clean energy future”.
The 70-page document provides dozens of renewable energy generation technologies within major categories such as solar, wind, water and biomass. This first edition defines each system and provides its conversion efficiency when applicable; a second edition will include pros and cons, lifecycle carbon costs, and more detailed diagrams of the technologies.
The guide should come in handy for those working on the 2012 LAGI design competition, which of course is being held for a site within Freshkills Park.