ZARAGOZA / Digital Mile Park
The Digital Mile Park, linked to a developing centre of new technologies, is part of Zaragoza’s repositioning on a metropolitan scale. Creating a new type of space for nature, original and welcoming, the park explores the possible landscapes that are the relationship between the virtual and the real, the confrontation of the digital with the physical world.
In preparation for the 2008 World Expo, the city of Saragossa held several planning competitions for architecture and landscape design, with a view to developing the exhibition site itself on a loop of the Ebro River and redefining the urban areas linking it with the city. The latter were heavily constructed and lacking in pleasant, relaxing green spaces. Following this competition, Agence Ter was awarded the task of designing the grounds (not yet built) linking the Expo site with a new train station on the high-speed AVE line. The site is a long and narrow park bordered by dense, heterogeneous construction and massive infrastructure. The idea is to create a natural zone, comfortable and original, but beyond this the planning of the new park posed a more complex question: how to relate the real with the virtual, the place itself with its digital amplification, the sensations of material space with those of immaterial space. In short, the park is envisioned as an area of digital experimentation. Natural elements are blended everywhere with elements from the high-tech digital world in a flexible composition where natural or constructed limits are used as vehicles for crossing from one domain to the other. Visitors themselves are seen as the principal agents in this park, free to experiment with the supports inherent in the structuring elements of the landscape. These constitute nothing less than an open work in progress which, when complemented by digital interaction, can form the new and composite space of an augmented reality.
IVRY SUR SEINE / Cormailles Park
The Park is greatly influenced by the geography of the Seine valley, which holds the memory of flooding and the sedimentation of silt and sand. The horizontality here is entirely specific. The central element of the park consists of a sizeable lawn. The tall buildings beside the park rise out of the original topography like recent additions. Hence the decision to make use of the mound of landfill of the park, a real addition that was made when the old factories were demolished; their idea was to turn this higher ground into a special event, a kind of belvedere that would offer a better view of the surrounding cityscape: the metropolitan skyline, the perpetual stream of cars and the trains passing by.
After the old factories were pulled down in the 1970s, the disused site attracted children who rode improvised sledges down the sides of the mound; filmmakers also used the area as a location; there were festivals of all kinds, and flea markets; abundant graffiti appeared. The new park continues to offer the public an atmosphere of freedom, as well as a ‘green beach’ for local people who may not have the means to go on holiday. Of course, a beach needs water, so it was laid out a water channel along the edge of the park. In this area the only projections are slender masts with water pipes incorporated into them; some of these serve as showers, others as mist-sprayers, to the delight of children and the general surprise of passers-by.
DUBLIN / Royal Canal Park
Sited in the heart of Dublin’s new dockland business centre, the park provides a natural breathing space where the idea of reversibility allows the project to adapt to a constantly evolving urban environment. Rectangular in form, gardens are placed in or out of the water; real or implied barges moored to structuring stone lines which are the main circulation corridors. Rather than proposing a fixed design for the entire length of the canal, Agence Ter identified the structuring lines on which the moveable or stationary “garden platforms” can be attached, each adapted to particular activities and ambiences – active, passive, floating, or otherwise. Some of these platforms will maintain a perennial character, while others – being reversible – will regularly redefine their initial configuration.
Floating gardens moored to the canal banks will increase the space available, creating a play of horizons between the canal banks and the water: the canal and its banks become one single vibrant expanse. They vary in density according to the seasons and the needs of the city, while providing venues for social, sporting, and cultural events in the new neighborhoods. The sterile surface of the old canal will be changed into a layer of fertility. Each platform will constitute a nature reserve, with different environments coexisting to promote increased biodiversity.