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How Can a Park Become “A Lung for the City”?

Campa de los Ingleses Park.

Article by Irmak Bilir Campa de los Ingleses Park, by Balmori Associates, Bilbao, Spain Very likely, everyone who is related to or interested in architecture knows the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, or has at least seen photos of it. The “Lung for the City” sits next to the museum in the northern part of Spain. The lung is actually a park, designed by Balmori Associates. It is the result of an international design competition in 2007; construction was completed in 2012. It is not surprising that the project, with its outstanding topographical waves, won the competition. It unifies the Abandoibarra area of Bilbao and the Nervión River, and the area is like a landscape bridge between the river and the city center. The park integrates the Mazarredo, Deusto Bridge, and the Plaza Euskadi with the surrounding buildings.

Campa de los Ingleses Park

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Bilboa Ria

Campa de los Ingleses Park

The Live Topography of the Park The challenging topography of the site inspires and organizes the landscape into an array of park space and plantings. A series of curving terraces has been created, with undulating paths that pull up. The topographic waves mediate a 10-meter elevation difference across the park. This was achieved with ramps, terraces, and topography, earthforms serving to control vistas and to allow for a cafe to take place under a raised topography. The terraces, ramps, stairs, and walls flow into one another to sculpt the park. Programmed spaces are inserted into the terrace walls, allowing for a continuous park surface. The paths widen to shape public spaces designed for relaxation and views of the river, mountains, and the Guggenheim.

Campa de los Ingleses Park

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Bilboa Ria

Why is the Project Called “A New Lung for the City”? The design has two parts sprawling from a street, and the paths in the project undulate like the veins in a lung. The shape of the project more or less reminds us of a lung, but that is not the only reason for this comparison. The paving of the Campa de los Ingleses contains an additive called GeoSliex, which absorbs carbon dioxide. It is made entirely from industrial wastes and was developed in partnership with the University of Granada.
Campa de los Ingleses Park

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Balmori Associates.

Planting Design of Campa de los Ingleses The planting design of the project is compatible with the topography and the waves. Divided areas in the green spaces are planted with ground-cover plants. A rock garden sits in the middle of the area, in a ellipses-shaped landscape detail that is also designed with some topographic changes and a long stair-like structure. Single trees are surrounded by circular seating elements, and lines of colorful trees wind through the site, collecting in the plazas to provide pockets of shade and color. There are more broad-leaved trees than evergreens, including lots of fruit trees. Apple trees (Malus spp.) dominate, but there are also beeches (Fagus spp.), magnolias (Magnolia spp.) , oaks (Quercus spp), holm oaks (Quercus ilex), red maples (Acer spp.) and lindens (Tilia spp.). An abundance of flowering shrubs, perennials, and ground cover provide a stunning seasonal show. Rather than using turf or “industrial lawn”, a “freedom lawn” was planted by introducing various grass species, clover, and wildflowers that fix nitrogen and reduce the need for pesticides. Another good point in the planting design is that the grass has been planted in different heights to emphasize the topographic differences and shapes. In some of the undulated areas, wild herbs are allowed to grow up for the height difference.
Campa de los Ingleses Park.

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Balmori Associates.

Campa de los Ingleses Park.

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Balmori Associates.

Campa de los Ingleses Park.

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Balmori Associates.

The Other Landscape Elements in the Project The floodlighting elements are linear, while other light fixtures on the crossroads are just a little curve that is harmonious with the design. The walls created by the topography have special leaf-shaped reliefs that give character to the area. Long seating elements that continue on the undulating paths are remarkably good points for watching the landscape while resting.
Campa de los Ingleses Park

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo: Borja Gomez Photography (Courtesy Borja Gomez)

Campa de los Ingleses park not only embellishes Bilbao City with its unusual landscape, but it also cares about the ecology. This can be seen in the designers’ choice of pavements. Would you like to visit here and have a Spanish “cafe con leche” in the cafe that is tucked under the topographical elevation in Campa de los Ingleses Park? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments
Campa de los Ingleses Park

Campa de los Ingleses Park. Photo courtesy Bilboa Ria

Full Project Credits For Campa de los Ingleses Park:

Project Name: Campa de los Ingleses Park Location: Bilbao, Spain Landscape Architecture: Balmori Associates Date of Construction: Completed 2012 Project Area: 25,000 square meters/6.17 acres Budget: 3.1 million euros (civil engineering and gardening) Client: Sociedad Bilbao Ria 2000 Local Partner: LANTEC RTN Architects Recommended Reading:

Article by Irmak Bilir

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