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The ‘suspended forest’ in Milan
The ‘suspended forest’ in Milan. Photograph: Parco Romana, courtesy of The Design Team

Europe’s getting loads of really long parks – and we’re super into it

From a converted tram line in Turin to a motorway-turned-park in Madrid, the fashion for elevated green spaces is giving several major cities a lift

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

If you live in a city, you make do with whatever green space you have. Sliver of rubbish-strewn lawn, patch of poo-smattered scrub – fine, we’ll survive. But forget just making do: a new park in the Italian city of Turin should have us all clamouring for bigger, better spaces.

Sandwiched between two halves of a dual carriageway, the Precollinear Park stretches 700 metres from the River Po up to a piazza on the neighbouring hillside. You would probably never have wanted to mooch along this disused tram track before, but since it was renovated during Italy’s first lockdown, it’s been heaving with people every day. The park is clean, it’s green and it has a readymade route all laid out for you – what’s not to like?

Precollinear Park in TurinThe park-to-be on a flyover in Madrid. Photograph: Conecta Vallecas

Precollinear isn’t the only project of its kind: there are plans afoot to site new green spaces on neglected transport hubs and routes in several European cities. Neighbour Milan is creating a ‘suspended forest’ on the site of the city’s old airport. A brand-new 130-hectare park is soon to occupy a mega-choked flyover in Madrid. And London, too, is planning a kilometre-long green walkway along a series of railway viaducts between Camden and King’s Cross: its very own New York-style High Line.

Over the past year, Precollinear has acted as so much more than just an attractive rambling spot; it’s also become a thriving community events space, with a programme spanning yoga classes, kids’ activities, concerts and DJ sets. This is a place where you can socialise safely, outdoors, in a beautiful and original setting – and it’s hoped it will endure long after Covid.

Precollinear Park in TurinPrecollinear Park in Turin. Photograph: Federico Masini

Luca Ballarini, CEO of nonprofit Torino Stratosferica, which created and now looks after the space, thinks so-called ‘linear parks’ will soon be a feature of cities worldwide. ‘There’s always a railway track that’s not functioning,’ he says. ‘There’s always a street which can be turned into something else.’

At risk of sounding just a little bit like Leslie Knope, there’s potential for parks everywhere. And we can think much more grandiose than just that same-old sliver.

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