A disused industrial railyard site in Florida is set to be transformed into a new public park that aims to reduce the site’s industrial damage and revitalise the area with a thriving community space.
With the aim to create the self-proclaimed “Central Park of Lakeland”, global design firm Sasaki will create Bonnet Springs Park in Central Florida from a former property to an ecological hub. Initially a vacant brownfield, the site is currently undergoing environmental remediation to tackle the years of industrial damage, with plans to open to the public in 2020.
Using creative environmental mechanisms to ready the site for construction, the architects plan to stockpile the arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons prevalent in over a third of the 180-acre of the land as landscaping elements. The mounds may reach 27 metres in height, therefore completely altering the existing topological conditions.
A significant feature of the site, the constructed wetland gardens are connected to a degraded stream corridor that carries the stormwater to prevent pollutants from entering the adjacent Lake Bonnet. This allows clean water to be produced from the sand seep spring, a new restored hydrological system that will help stabilise the banks and provide habitat for water-loving fauna. Interested visitors are able to view this process throughout their journey along the intertwined boardwalk.
The scheme consisting of four new buildings immersed in the landscape is intended to create seamless exterior and interior experiences for the park visitors. Constructed between two hills, the Explorations V Children’s Museum that serves as the park’s anchor institution will provide rooftop views of the site. Amid the 5-metre-high walkways, the buildings will feature oversized canopies to create spaces to play and learn about the surrounding landscape.
By integrating programmatic elements, such as a nature, event and welcome centres, the park plans to generate income for long-term economic sustainability. In addition, the park features heritage gardens, a canopy walk, open lawns, walking and biking trails, non-motorised boating activities, and a sculpture garden. This surrounding open area can be used to host outdoor concerts and festivals as well.
Intended as an outdoor space to showcase the history of the site, native flora and fauna, and contemporary art and sculpture, the thoughtful utilisation of the land will create a new urban centre within the emerging downtown of Lakeland.