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A Green Latticework
Dawn Danby, 25 Aug 04

crailo.jpg In North America, green bridges are generally limited to those highway overpasses in the Rockies designed to maintain habitat linkages; ideally, bears and other large animals cross the naturalized, tree-covered bridges over the Trans-Canada highway without too much disruption to their habitat. If you're not creating a safe passage for the preservation of diesel trucks, though, there's often little incentive to build such things - though their design and engineering is not complex.

In the Netherlands, development density (and a latticework of roads) is seriously compromising the movement of both fauna and flora, since small animals spread plants by transporting seeds inside their bodies and on their fur. While there appears to be an ongoing effort in the UK to preserve (for example) badger habitat with small ecoducts and tunnels, the Dutch province of Noord-Holland is addressing this issue with an enormous construction project. Spanning a railway line, business park, river, and sports complex, the Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailo (Crailo sand quarry nature bridge) will be the largest ecoduct in the world, a suburban conservation effort that has little in common with Alberta's occasional bear bridge.

highline.jpg The Crailo project stands alone in that it accounts for inevitable human traffic, while ambitiously working to reconnect ecosystems. Although green bridges turn up in urban areas such as London's Mile End Park, they have more to do with urban parkland than habitat integration. New York's High Line redevelopment will knit a landscaping and reclamation effort into an old elevated train structure, and I'm anxious to see it develop: the amazing Diller Scofidio + Renfro won the competition, and you can see the four finalists' visions via Friends of the High Line. The post-industrial salvaging reminds me a little of Germany's Park Duisberg Nord, which transformed a sprawling factory ruin into a huge urban park, retaining all its character while greening it in the most unexpected ways.

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Diller Scofidio & Renfro are probably going to make their mark on NYC in a big way: not only are they part of the High Line design team, but they are also the architects for Lincoln Center's redevelopment, and were involved with the master plan for the development of the "Brooklyn Academy of Music Cultural District."

Pretty amazing for a duo that seemed to have to have a very marginal presence in the city until their big Whitney retrospective last year.

Some concept drawings of their LC plan are at:

A good article on the (controversial) BAM/downtown Brooklyn redevelopment plan, although possibly a bit opaque to out-of-towners:

Posted by: Emily on 25 Aug 04

I checked out the finalists for the High-Line thing, it seemed to me that all of them had one glaring omission -- no vision for the winter.

They are all very summery designs. But summer doesn't last all year, and part of that is rain.

I'm sure they'll think of it sooner of later.

Posted by: adrian cotter on 25 Aug 04

Great post, Dawn!

Am I interpreting the Natuurbrug site correctly? Is it really 800m long and 50m wide? That's gigantic. More than seven football fields, right?

The High Line project is really cool.

All of these are grist for my thinking that the re-integration of wilderness and cities may in fact be possible -- and that it'll happen in totally unexpected Viridian ways: involuntary parks, historic preservation through recreational uses, environmental mitigation, green roofs, living machines, etc.

PS: "badgerland" is one heck of a cool domain name...

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 25 Aug 04



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