Urban Greenfingers: 7 Regeneration Projects That Keep Our Cities Breathing

Gordon O'Connor-Read Gordon O'Connor-Read

TO CELEBRATE THE OPENING OF OUR 4TH ANNUAL A+AWARDS, WE’RE TAKING A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PROJECTS FROM 2015. WANT TO GET IN ON THE ACTION? CHECK OUT THE A+AWARDS PAGETO FIND OUT HOW TO ENTER.

Parisians should share some of the plaudits when it comes to celebrating the High Line in New York. Simply put, they got there first. Built across former railway tracks, the Promenade Plantée in Paris was the original trailblazer with its subtle fusion of post-industrial decline and re-colonization of an area long forgotten by its citizens. Other non-profit organizations have taken up the baton, sparking a global interest in urban gardens with Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and recent proposals for a Garden Bridge across the River Thames in London, all the while bringing a little more green into our lives.

Marrying architecture and agriculture in our cities provides us with a buffer to the elements. Permeable and integrated into the fabric of our built environment, sustainable drainage systems (SuDs) for example combat annual rainfall and the subsequent sewage, partly through an increase in green parks, squares, and streets. The demand placed upon our cities by an expanding urban populous means we have to strive for unconventional methods to meet the growing need.

The projects in this collection range from ambitious regeneration schemes that employ green ‘living’ walls, efficient energy consumption, and water recycling systems to minimal interventions that occupy spaces left vacant by industry. The A+ Awards give recognition to those architects and designers that contribute to the social infrastructure that keeps our cities moving through green and intuitive means.

High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, New York City, N.Y., United States

A fine example of urban regeneration that all architects, designers, and city planners point to — the High Line — is where architecture meets agricultural design. The 1.5-mile elevated promenade takes its cue from the overgrown shrubs and plants that have inhabited this abandoned infrastructure during the intervening years since the decline of freight trains. It is an exercise in minimal intervention.

Joan Maragall Library by BCQ arquitectura barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

A curious decision to build a new public library underneath the old gardens of Vil.la Florida paid dividends here. Maintaining the level of the garden has brought ample light into the building, while preserving the prominent position of trees and lawns looking out over the neighborhood.

SK Yee Healthy Life Centreby Ronald Lu & Partners, Hong Kong, China

Taking healthcare design in a new direction, the lightweight steel structure provides a framework for calm ambience in amongst the bustle of Hong Kong. Serviced entirely by natural light and ventilation, this center has an integrated green roof and wall, covering more than half of its external surface.

Reforma 412 Roof Gardens by DLC Architects, Mexico City, Mexico

Roof gardens inhabit several terraces of this high-rise development in one of the world’s fastest growing cities. These are fundamental to the building’s overall sustainable strategy by recycling 100 percent rain water and lowering water consumption across the board.

Palazzo Lombardia by Pei Cobb & Partners Architects, Milan, Italy

The political heart of industrial Milan recaptures past glories while adapting for the future. The 528-foot tower and podium below relay upon a thermal buffer zone formed from a deep climate wall that regulates airflow through the complex.

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square by James Corner Field Operations, Santa Monica, Calif., United States

A former derelict parking lot, the new lush green topography has been shaped by meadows and observation decks that connect this public park with the rest of the Santa Monica area. The sinuous footpaths provide seating for private reflection, but open up to cascading water features and picnic areas for the community.

Riverpark Farm by ORE Design, New York City, N.Y., United States

Capitalizing on the idle construction site next door, Riverpark Restaurant charged their designers with devising a means to farm fresh green produce for their kitchen on a daily basis. The result was a well orchestrated arrangement of portable crates, leaving enough space for a dining area like no other.

WANT TO SHOW THE WORLD YOUR GREAT DESIGNS? CHECK OUT THE A+AWARDS PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON HOW TO ENTER YOUR PROJECT!


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