Little Island by Heatherwick Studio and MNLA is exploring the creation of raised platform parks to combat rising seas. With over 11,000 square meters of space, this park on the Hudson River sits on a series of stilted platforms that look like boats aloft over the water. It hosts three new public performance venues.

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An undulating park held up to look like it is suspended over water

Little Island was designed as a haven for people and wildlife, as a green oasis. It’s held above the water by sculptural planters, just across a gangplank from Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

Related: Historic canal in Utrecht is now a climate-resilient park

An undulating surface of a park rising above water

Best of all, it’s not all on one level. The platforms undulate to mimic natural rise and fall of land, creating a much more interesting space to enjoy. The effect is as though it is floating on a boat on the river, or being transported to a scenic park with rolling hills. Really, it is somehow a combination of the two.

A pathway leads to a raised park above water

On top of the platforms that jut out into the Hudson next to the docks near the Javitz Center, there is an amphitheater, trails for walking, green space and bridges. There are also plenty of space for picnics and parties.

The many trails through a park

Heatherwick Studio was invited by philanthropist Barry Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust to create a pavilion for a new pier in Southwest Manhattan. The design team saw an opportunity to rethink what a pier could be. Did it even have to be flat? The park was inspired by Central Park, where it’s possible to immerse yourself in green space and forget the city for a while.

A park with squiggly pathways where people are sitting on the grass

Furthermore, the idea of raising the park on its foundations came from the existing wooden piles in the water from old piers. Though disintegrating, these old piles have become an important habitat for marine life and are a protected breeding ground for fish. The designers wanted to mimic this for the Little Island.

A curved bridge that goes through a park with walkways for pedestrians

Additionally, over 100 species of native plants and trees fill the planters, while each corner of the park represents a different microclimate of New York. The result is a lovely, entirely new concept of what a park can be for cities and coastlines.

+ Heatherwick Studio

Images via Timothy Schenck, Angela Weiss, Alexi Rosenfeld, Getty Images and China News Service