Issue 19’s Ethos eights encourage us to find some sunny spots in the city, share environmental inspiration and leave us with something to listen to.
Eight surreal city sights
When thinking of cities, it’s easy to think of carbon copies. Lines of buildings and masses of people; no wonders of the world. But there are wonders in our cities, too. Large and small, surreal city sights are waiting for our exploration. This edition of Ethos eights takes a whistle-stop tour around the world to explore some of the most surreal experiences in cities across the globe.
1. A superhuman sculpture: Atop a volcanic hill on the shoreline of Dakar, Senegal, a giant bronzed family of a man, woman and child stretch their arms toward the sky. The African Renaissance Monument stands stark against the expanse of the city, reaching a height of 160 feet above ground level. Completed in 2010, the monument’s origins are contested, but the aim of it was to encapsulate the hope for the continent’s growth and bright future. Visible from most parts of the city of Dakar, following the figures’ eyelines will guide your view to the shoreline of the city and the water beyond. https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/features/african-renaissance-monument-dakar-1234640489/
2.Enchanting chimes: Every hour, Tokyo’s Giant Ghibli Clock chimes with mechanical movements and enchanting scenes from Studio Ghibli’s films. Four storeys tall, the mesmerising landmark has a quirky steampunk style that sets it apart from the city’s typical architecture. The detailed crafting and engineering of the clock pays tribute to the studio’s renowned animated world, home to films like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Visitors and fans flock to the site for the spectacle and storytelling, as the clock brings magic to Tokyo. https://tokyocheapo.com/place/nittele-giant-clock/
3. Ancient agriculture: Cairo is a city that bridges the modern and the ancient and visiting it will show you plenty of examples of Ancient Egyptian engineering. Beyond the Pyramids, however, and in the city itself, is the Nilometer. In ancient times the structure was used to predict rain patterns. The well is surrounded by cylindrical stone, engraved with Quranic verses about water and agriculture. Today, visitors can enter the geometric building, pass beneath the artful domed ceiling, and descend the staircase where Nile water once ran. https://www.arrivalguides.com/en/Travelguide/Cairo/doandsee/nilometer-39463
4. A bibliophile’s haven: Nestled on Istanbul’s waterfront is a gem of modern design. Nevmekan Sahil Library is a serene space, with a beautiful seascape design. Completed post-pandemic in 2021, the library’s collection is expansive and diverse, and visitors can get lost in the literature, or in the views of the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul’s iconic waterway where the Black Sea meets the Mediterranean. Right by the water’s edge, the library blend of contemporary style and the traditionalism of a stunning domed ceiling leaves lots to be admired. https://istanbul.goturkiye.com/nevmekan-sahil
5. Oasis on the harbour: On Sydney’s historic waterfront, an urban park merges nature into the city so seamlessly that the transition is barely noticeable. Barangaroo Reserve opened in 2015 and is named after an influential and iconic Indigenous woman in Aboriginal history. The reserve also honours Aboriginal heritage with native plantings. The urban oasis boasts harbour views and expansive walking paths, celebrating Sydney’s natural beauty. https://www.barangaroo.com/precincts/barangaroo-reserve
6. The Yellow Brick Road: In 1982, a group of eccentric enthusiasts created the hidden Garden of Oz, right in the urban landscape of Los Angeles. The enchanting space features a collection of diverse plants from succulents and cacti to vibrant flora. Whimsical artwork and sculptures add to the atmosphere as the pathways take visitors through various settings. Some sections resemble deserts, others are fairy tale scenes from the screen. The Garden of Oz is an urban retreat that fuses horticulture and creativity, transforming tourists or locals into magical explorers, right inside the city. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/garden-of-oz
7. Dynamic design: Rio de Janeiro is a city with plenty of breath-taking views, but one special structure encompasses the future of science and sustainability. Bright white and futuristic, Museu do Amanhã’s avant-garde design stands against the city’s landscape like a spaceship ready to launch. With not a single straight edge in sight, the building flaunts curves and translucent facades that blend into the waterfront. Not to mention the exhibits inside. The museum engages visitors with interactive and immersive exhibits centring around innovation and ecological transformation. https://museudoamanha.org.br/
8. The city in a garden: Picture vertical gardens rivalling mythological Babylon wrapped completely around trunks of reinforced concrete and steel that tower 160 feet above you. These are Singapore’s Supertrees that harness solar energy to power Central Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Spanning 250 acres, the gardens include two conservatories, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The former is the world’s largest greenhouse, while the second presents mountainous landscapes. Gardens by the Bay masterfully blend nature and innovation against the city’s skyline. https://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/
Eight parks in the sky
The phrase ‘concrete jungle’ doesn’t come from nowhere. Residents of cities crave greenery and access to nature; so too do city planners and architects. New and inventive ways to incorporate nature without losing valuable space is a tempting idea. These are some explanations for the popularity of elevated green spaces, or – as we’re calling them – parks in the sky.
1. Salesforce Park: Above a transportation hub in San Francisco, this park spans four blocks and features gardens, paths, and a playground. The park’s central location gives it great connectivity for the community. https://salesforcetransitcenter.com/salesforce-park/
2.Seoullo 7017: This serene walkway in Seoul is ingrained with over 24,000 plants and trees. Along the kilometre walk, there are plenty of gardens, cafés, and cultural spaces. The space brings a safe avenue for residents and visitors to stroll and engage with the city in an elevated green setting. https://parks.seoul.go.kr/template/sub/seoullo7017.do
3.Luchtsingel: Revitalised railway tracks and highways in Rotterdam, Netherlands, create a striking pedestrian bridge with gardens, art, and flora. Designed to reconnect divided neighbourhoods, it brings social engagement to Rotterdam’s heart. https://en.rotterdam.info/locations/luchtsingel-en/
4.Namba Parks: In the heart of Osaka, Japan, Namba Parks is a multilevel complex that blends recreation and nature. Gardens stack vertically story after story, surrounding an inner structure of shopping and dining. https://nambaparks.com/
5.Sky Park Melbourne: Unveiled in 2022, Sky Park is a new recreational area in Melbourne, Australia. Perched high atop the Collins Arch Tower, the retreat merges natural and contemporary design in its lush gardens and wellness facilities. https://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/sky-park
6. St Thomas Elevated Park: In Ontario, Canada, visitors will find a captivating linear park above Kettle Creek Valley. Converted from a disused rail track, the park opened in 2018 and is filled with gardens, art, and vast views.
7. Coulée Verte René-Dumont: This repurposed Parisian railway viaduct features tree-lined pathways and charming city views. Inspired by New York’s High Line, Parisians and visitors can escape above the city on their walk from A to B.
8. Sky Garden: Atop London’s Fenchurch Building is Sky Gardens, an oasis above the hustle and bustle. It flaunts gardens and observation decks with dining options and multi-functional spaces.