Kansas City, Missouri, has launched an open international design competition for a new 11km-long linear park in Twin Creeks (Deadline: 8 July)
Open to professionals and students, the contest seeks ‘walkable and vibrant’ proposals for the 400ha green space, which will be the centrepiece of the emerging Northland district.
The mostly rural Twin Creeks area, around 20km from the city centre, is expected to gain 20,000 residential units – housing 75,000 people – over the next 20 years.
Around $43.5 million USD has already been spent on new infrastructure for the 6,000ha neighbourhood, with the winning designs expected to shape the next stage of investment.
‘The goal of this competition,’ says the brief, ‘is to develop a more tangible vision for a linear park in Twin Creeks and for developments that are adjacent to the park.
‘Our hope is that the designs submitted as part of this competition can frame future public and private investments, guide the overall shape and development of Twin Creeks, and excite and engage local stakeholders and the broader Kansas City community in discussion about the future of the area.’
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is on the Missouri-Kansas state border, and is geographically the USA’s most centrally located metropolis. In the coming decades it is expected to witness continued suburban growth.
Existing recreational amenities for the city’s 2.1 million residents include large golf courses and green spaces such as the Penn Valley and Kessler parks.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates completed an overhaul of the Liberty Memorial and The National World War I Museum in Penn Valley park 10 years ago. In 2008 HOK transformed a seven-block area of the city into a new ‘Power & Light District’ featuring offices, retail and music venues.
Other recent high-profile Kansas City developments include Populous’s 2007 Sprint Centre and the 2001 Kansas Speedway by HNTB.
The new linear green space is intended to set a benchmark for sustainable, high-quality development in the area, and could feature walking and cycling paths, playgrounds, recreational areas, shops, cafés and local businesses.
Kansas City, Missouri
The park is expected to follow the route of an existing watercourse running through the Twin Creeks zone, which is a natural ‘stream buffer’. Strategies will be required to ensure the conveyance of flood water, preservation of wildlife habitats and improvement of water quality.
Submissions must feature an overall conceptual design plus detailed responses to four different landscape scenarios set out in the competition brief.
Judges include SOM partner Philip Enquist, Storytellers director Michael Vance Toombs, and executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council, Alicia Stephens.
Commenting on the opportunities for emerging architects, Stephens said: ‘This area is ripe for innovative ideas from emerging designers. They will basically have a blank template to create a design for the future; a design that could set the tone for the adjacent thousands of acres.’
Three winning teams – set to be announced in August – will share $24,000 and feature in a high-profile event attended by key stakeholders in September. A student winner will also receive an honorary mention.
How to apply
11:59 pm local time (CST) on 8 July
City Planning and Development
414 E. 12th St
Madrid Río case study: Q&A with Edzo Bindels
The director at West 8 discusses how the practice – working with Burgos & Garrido, Porras La Casta, Rubio & A-Sala – created a new park replacing the old motorways surrounding Madrid’s River Manzanares
How did your Madrid Río project improve connections between neighbourhoods, provide recreational amenities and enhance natural watercourses?
With 11 new river crossings and the incorporation of existing historic features into the new 360-acre (145ha) park plan, Madrid Río literally and symbolically celebrates the connections between different parts of previously unconnected portions of the city. In this way the intervention has strengthened surrounding neighborhoods’ connection to the new amenities and to each other.
Madrid Río embodies the optimistic idea that design can be a transformative force, acknowledging the plurality of the city, its many social and economic profiles, uses, velocities, timescales, and cycles. The project is part of a larger vision for the city, which embraces culture, education, and wellbeing for its future restructuring. Located in an area that was historically the ‘back door’ of Madrid, where the population has been exposed to pollution and noise for many years, the essence of the design is to bridge communities, to be inclusive, non-hierarchical, informal, serving as a platform for various activities and healthier lifestyles.
Source: Image by Municipality of Madrid
What material, infrastructure and other considerations were important when designing a linear park around an existing river?
The main constraints of this project were centered on the tunnel. Madrid Río is an act of repair; it addresses the unwanted consequences of an infrastructure project designed for cars, and transforms it into a place designed for people. The design had to address issues of loading, height difference, ground water level, as well as respecting the historic context and createing a new experience of the river.
The design had to be reactive—responsive to decisions that had already been made with regards to the tunnels. In this way, the park makes the tunnel infrastructure (including accesses and ramps, air filters, ventilation shafts, emergency exits, electrical rooms) disappear, by creating public spaces as well as valuable transversal connections to the surrounding neighborhoods, which enhance a rich new park system.
The team made the best of what we had—for example, we invested in plantings to create pockets of shading and the reuse of stone from the site to create interesting walls that vary from place to place, providing continuity throughout while lending a sense of locality and tactility. Likewise the gentle undulations of the landscape are a result of the changing tunnel heights below. Madrid Río encompasses everything from the deepest functional levels underground to the new continuity elements on the surface of the ground. It is this cohesive response that was critical to the project’s success.
Source: Image by Jeroen Musch
The unique historic setting in which the project has taken place is a completely consolidated, complex urban fabric. It spreads from north to south across one of the most densely populated parts of the city. The central nature of the operation directly affects not only vast numbers of people and the city’s identity, but also its most important services: its facilities and transport routes. The strategy employed to build the public space therefore had to take into account that the project belonged to an eminently urban and artificial ecological system. Despite this, the Madrid Río has been transformed into a green corridor by the principal material used: vegetation. More than 35,000 carefully selected mature, native trees were planted, along with over 2,000 small trees and around 400,000 shrubs commonly found in the Madrid region. This is an artificial project built out of nature.
Of course being located on the waterfront, another fundamental aspect of the project was the design of a watering system, which uses regenerated water from the city’s treatment plants and the drainage systems of the metro lines and well as reestablishing people’s connection with the river.
How might competitors design a new linear park that enhances the vitality and desirability of an emerging new urban district?
There is not a one-fits-all solution for this type of project. Many factors, constraints and opportunities are unique to each site, and each project. West 8 and its partners believe design is not something you can import and impose on a site. In all our projects, we customise our design response to accommodate contemporary culture, urban identity, architecture, public space and engineering, while always taking the context into account.
Madrid Río is an excellent example of how a reclaimed urban riverfront (once taken by traffic infrastructure) can be a catalyst for a better civic life, while integrating the micro-climatic potentials of the river for the urban environment. It has strong parallels to the Twin Creeks Competition as it highlights the potential for thoughtfully planned and carefully executed mobility infrastructures to transform a city and its region. This is particularly valuable within the context of contemporary urbanisation globally, and the sustainable development of Kansas City.
Source: Image by Jeroen Musch