Article | Adaptive Spaces
Five of the World’s Most Unique Urban Parks
October 25, 2022
Normally when we think about what makes a city great, the first things that come to mind are restaurants, nightlife, art galleries, and cultural or historical attractions. However, we believe parks are the unsung heroes of world-class cities. Consider how Central Park defines New York, or Hyde Park does the same for London.
CBRE Thailand recently enjoyed its 34th anniversary, and the celebrations included planting trees in Bangkok’s new Benjakitti Forest Park and donating hundreds of seedlings to help with the Bangkok Governor’s goal of planting a million trees across the capital. Benjakitti itself is a most welcome addition to the city, and its unique forest landscape and skywalk have inspired us to shine a light on some of the other wonderful parks you can find in cities around the world.
1. Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, South Korea
Cheonggyecheon is without doubt one of the most visually striking urban parks in the world. Almost 20 years ago the Seoul authorities tore down an elevated highway that had covered a stream and transformed it into a place where people can relax and enjoy the gentle flow of water in the middle of this booming metropolis. The park is a great example of how visionary urban planning can benefit everyone.
2. The Turia Gardens, Valencia, Spain
In a near-reverse of what happened with the park at Cheonggyecheon, Valencia’s Turia Gardens were created by removing a river from the city: it was diverted after catastrophic floods in the 1950s. This meant that the city was left with a dry riverbed, which was then converted into a large public park. Within the gardens you can find everything from the Bioparc city zoo with its natural enclosures and medieval bridges to picnicking families and bicycle lanes.
3. The High Line, New York, United States
The High Line is one of the most interesting examples of recycling old infrastructure and transforming it into something unique, beautiful, and useful to the local community. Built on a disused elevated railway track, the High Line now stands proudly as a beloved Manhattan icon, allowing New Yorkers to enjoy beautiful gardens and cutting-edge art and design in a people-centered space above the chaos and the traffic of the city below.
4. Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is famous for having one of the most beautiful natural settings of any city in the world, and Stanley Park finds itself perfectly located in the middle of it. The park contains a wealth of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including dense forests to explore, beaches, lakes, an aquarium, tennis courts, and a vast network of walking trails and bicycle lanes dotted with ancient trees and cultural marvels such as totem poles, which were created by the native inhabitants of the region. Stanley Park is a must-visit on any trip to Vancouver.
5. Parc Güell, Barcelona, Spain
No list of unique urban parks would be complete without a mention of Barcelona’s incomparable Parc Güell. Beyond the extraordinary views of the city from the park, it contains several buildings designed by Barcelona’s most well-known architect, Antoni Gaudí, whose most famous work in the city is the unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia. His colorful and dreamlike work is complemented by beautiful gardens and inspirational viewpoints and gives Parc Güell the feeling of being in a fairytale. The park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, indicating its significance not only to Barcelona but to world culture.
A park is often defined as ‘a large public garden or area of land used for recreation’, but as we have seen above, parks can be much more than that. These unique urban parks add something special to a city by attracting tourists and giving them something to photograph and talk about. But most importantly, they make residents proud of something that helps their city stand out in the crowd.