In a recent trip to Zurich, I visited the several times awarded MFO Park by Burckhardt+Partner and Raderschall. Located over an old industrial area and built on the former site of MaschinenFabrik Oerlikon, the MFO Park provides a different interpretation of an urban park. The multidisciplinary team formed by the architects Burckhardt+Partner and the landscape architect Raderschall proposed a three dimensional plaza replacing trees by steel structures covered with vegetation. Like an ancient ruin that acknowledges the industrial past of the area, the park reminds us an abandoned industrial building covered by the growing vegetation.
104 different vines fill the walls and offer a range of experiences of changing light, colours, shadows and smells. The six-story of open steel construction allows visitors to walk under, over and through the vegetation. Several cantilevered balconies work as observatories of the passing time, showing us the different colours, textures and patterns as seasons change. It actually fells like being in a vegetal theatre attending the nature cycles. In a letter sent to the joint planners of the MFO Park, the artist Jurg Altherr described the park as “a walk-on sculpture; the green opera!” The MFO Park proposes us a new way of thinking about urban parks and public spaces. The urban space should be conceived as an alive and always changing element dynamically experienced.