To celebrate Earth Week, we’re looking at the most magical green spaces in big cities. When you think of urban sprawl, you think of concrete, trash and smog. Green doesn’t normally come to mind when you hear "New York" or "Seoul," but as it turns out, Green is Universal, and if you can dream it, you can green it.
Green spaces in big cities help us imagine a greener future, as we promote the practice of urban sustainability. Because the reality is, when urban populations are growing, property is being developed at breakneck speed, and traffic comes to a standstill, the environment should be a prime concern. Maintaining green spaces, and encouraging the development of more green spaces in big cities, is one of the keys to preserving our aching environment. These five cities are proving that green space is not only necessary for urban sustainability, but that it can also be a quite magical addition to a big city. Peruse them all and visit the NBC Universal site Green is Universal for more inspiration.
1. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are straight out of a bedtime story, the kind of thing you imagined up as a child when you thought of far off worlds like Alice’s Wonderland or Peter Pan’s Never Never Land. The three part garden hugs Singapore’s business district and Marina Bay with huge, towering gardens that seem completely unreal, and are reminiscent of Avatar sets. The gardens host 500,000 plant species, 100 bird species, gushing waterfalls and immense 80-164 ft tall "supertrees." Speaking of magical, the supertrees have built in cells that absorb solar energy too--a true feat of greenery.
2. The Lowline, New York (Coming Soon)
You’ve heard of the Highline, New York’s above-ground train track developed into a park above Manhattan’s West Side. But now New York is preparing to host the Lowline, a park underground. The Lowline is set to be the world’s first underground park, and will run on high-tech solar power, harnessed from a remote skylight, despite its subterranean locale. The Lowline’s home will be under the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side, and will be the size of a football field, featuring a range of plants including philodendrons, dwarf snake plants, spiderworts, nettles and Spanish moss.
3. Cheonggyecheon, Seoul
You might not be able to pronounce Cheonggyecheon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entirely magical. The Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul used to be a drain covered by a freeway, which doesn’t sound entirely appealing, but the city transformed it into one of the world’s most innovative green spaces. Cheonggyecheon runs from downtown Seoul to the Han River and features a running creek and beautiful gardens.
4. Culpeper Community Garden, London
You might be familiar with London’s big parks, like Hyde Park or Victoria Gardens, but what you might not know about London is that the city is dotted with hidden green spaces like the Culpeper Community Garden. Part magic fairy garden, part exercise in sustainability, Culpeper (located in Islington) is a public garden managed by the local community. With lush green grass and verdant gardens Culpeper is a green oasis in the middle of a busy city.
5. Namba Parks, Osaka
It might surprise you to learn that the magnificent Namba Parks are part of a massive compound of offices and retail space in Osaka, Japan. The mall is built in the old Osaka baseball stadium, and was created with greenery in mind. With an eight level rooftop garden, spanning several city blocks, the mall is more of a jungle than a shopping precinct. There are tree groves, boulders forming cliffs and canyons, as well as grassy lawns, babbling brooks, waterfalls, beautiful ponds and vegetable gardens. If only every consumer compound came with such magical greenery!