Stefan Gzyl shared with us his project “Parc Disponible”, one of the finalists on an international competition recently held in Paris on ways to incorporate nature into the urban environment in original ways. “Parc Disponible” is a glass box enclosing a mini-park for individual use within the city. See more images and architect’s description after the break.
The urban park is a modern invention. It is the response to a particular need that emerged with and within the industrial city. Its implementation was destined to satisfy specific recreational, hygienic, social and economic requirements of the city and its population. These conditions generated a new kind of public space. In the XX century, the quantification of nature (the establishment of an ideal ratio of built to natural within the urban environment) determined a proportional relation between park and city: the larger and more populated the city, the bigger and more numerous the parks. The size of the urban park was determined by the number of people it had to serve; its ultimate purpose, to provide a means of escape from the city within the city, determined its relation to the urban context: one of mutual exclusion. According to this logic, the insertion of the park always constitutes an interruption of the city’s fabric: it is either park or city, but never both.
Traditionally, the urban park is always inserted as a discontinuity of the built order, read in plan and experienced in three-dimensional space as a piece of land subtracted from the city for the simulation of a “natural” order. Yet in the conditions of the contemporary city, an ever-increasing need for green space is met with a decreasing availability of open land. This project proposes an extreme solution within the parameters of the competition: a park-for-one, a garden for individual and private relaxation and the momentary break from the urban environment, opening the senses to the intensified stimulation of nature in a simulated ecosystem of 15 square meters. In other words, the project attempts to repeat the operation of subtraction of urban fabric and its replacement with “nature” at the scale of a small capsule. Like an oasis in a desert (a secluded, self-contained and self-sufficient environment surrounded by dry land) this experimental green space is isolated from the city by dense vegetation and fully enclosed in glass.
Just like there are public telephones, WC cabins, velib or metro stations strategically located around the city, there can exist a network of mini-parks that can be used for a maximum of 30 minutes by any member with an access card. Simply sign up online to get your card. Log on to check availability of a park near you. Swipe your card and walk inside, leave the city behind. Sit back and enjoy the fresh air. This condensed garden, a park for one, provides a momentary pause from the city within the city.
The urban oasis serves the double function of individual leisure and environmental device. Each glass box can capture and retain rainwater, use it for irrigation, filter and return the rest to the city’s water supply, as well as filter and purify city air. Sealed glass and a system of mechanical louvers control temperature, creating a microclimate that guarantees a green space 365 days a year.