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5  great green spaces to explore and boost your mental wellbeing

16 May 2024

Want to combine getting fit with connecting with nature? Explore these five outdoor spaces to better your mental health. 

5  great green spaces to explore and boost your mental wellbeing
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is an awe-inspiring place to explore nature (image credit: Shutterstock)

Nature benefits our mental health. 

In the UK alone, 45% of people said that visiting green spaces such as parks helped them cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The days of lockdown may be behind us, but, as highlighted by this year's Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme, movement remains vital to good physical and psychological health.  

Whether you’re taking a stroll at lunchtime to stretch your legs, or heading out on a run after work, these five green spaces crafted by engineers provide a beautiful setting.  

1. High Line, New York, USA  

High Line, New York
High Line, New York, USA. Image credit: Shutterstock

One of New York’s biggest tourist attractions, this 2.33 km elevated garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City life.  

Now a green space combining art, landscaped gardens, and breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, it started as the High Line railway.  

Once called the ‘life line of New York’, it was a freight railway built in 1934 that brought goods into the city.

After it fell into disuse in the 1990s, the non-profit group, Friends of the High Line, proposed giving the railway a new life by turning it into a park.  

If you’ve visited, you might recognise it from the silver screen – it features in films ranging from Woody Allen’s 1979 film, Manhattan, to Will Smith’s zombie film, I Am Legend (2007). 

2. The Eden Project, Cornwall, UK  

The Eden Project, UK
The Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. Image credit: Shutterstock

Nestled in a former claypit in Cornwall, UK, the Eden Project is an incredible combination of biodiversity and civil engineering.  

It opened in 2001 and transformed the disused pit into a haven for an entire rainforest and hundreds of plant species.  

The Eden Project features two massive biomes, which are communities of plants and wildlife that have a particular climate, like a tundra, or a forest.

Aptly named, the Rainforest Biome is 55 metres high and houses the world’s largest captive rainforest.  

The Mediterranean Biome, at 35 metres, hosts warm temperatures, allowing arid plants such as olives and grapevines to grow.  

As it's designed to endure a wide range of temperatures on unstable ground, the domes’ windows are covered with transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), or ‘cling-film with attitude’ as they like to call it.  

The Eden Project has generated an impressive £1.9 billion for the local economy since its creation.  

Beyond the economic benefits it offers, it also serves as a gateway to nature and the outdoors, offering visitors an antidote to everyday stresses.  

Did you know?

The ICE's Benevolent Fund can offer workplace and wellbeing support through a range of services available to members and their families. Some former members may also qualify for support.

Find out more

3. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Singapore 

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Image credit: Shutterstock

When the idea for Gardens by the Bay was forming, the vision was to create 'a city in a garden’.

This horticultural haven not only boosts tourism but also enhances the quality of life for those living and working in Singapore.  

Attractions range from the fantastical Floral Fantasy to the awe-inspiring OCBC Skyway.  

Gardens by the Bay also feature the iconic Supertree Observatory. It provides the perfect opportunity to get some movement in while taking in the surrounding beauty of the Marina Bay area. 

The project results from the combined efforts of architects and structural and civil engineers, including Grant Associates,WilkinsonEyre and Atelier One, who developed the 136m walkway connecting the trees in the Supertree Grove.  

You can also enjoy a  digital experience about climate change from the air-conditioned comfort of the indoor viewing space or hop outside and snap some scenic shots.  

4. Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai, UAE  

Dubai Miracle Gardens
Dubai Miracle Gardens, Dubai, UAE. Image credit: Shutterstock

Dubai Miracle Garden is a floral wonderland built in the heart of a desert.  

Despite maintaining an incredible 150 million flowers, the garden saves resources by using an innovative underground watering system.  

By recycling wastewater, the system saves up to 75% of water and energy.  

Akar Landscaping and Agricultural Company were responsible for shaping the initial design of the miracle garden. 

Once the first phase was complete, they expanded the garden by 70%, and added a multistorey car park, floral clock, butterfly garden, retail stores and mosques.  

Visitors can admire floral copies of some of UAE’s most famous structures, including the Burj Khalifa and Emirates Airbus A380.  

Spanning 72,000 square metres, Dubai’s miracle garden allows you to get active in the stunning surroundings of the world’s largest natural flower garden. 

5. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London   

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK. Image credit: Shutterstock

In 2012, London was abuzz with excitement ahead of the United Kingdom hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games.  

A once-in-a-lifetime ‘mega project,’ 80,000 construction workers brought this spectacle to life.  

But transforming part of London’s Stratford into an Olympic Park was no easy feat. Civil engineers were involved every step of the way, from ensuring nearby homes were protected from flooding to building 30 new bridges to enhance connectivity and allow for better traffic control.  

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is now a venue for arts and entertainment, but it also boasts an impressive 226 hectares of green space.  

It serves as a living laboratory where students study the impact of climate change on biodiversity and planet species.  

It’s the perfect place for locals and tourists to get active and explore nature.  

Mental Health Matters

Movement is just one of the ways you can support your mental wellbeing and manage stress and anxiety. Learn about other ways to support mental health .

Read more

  • Jessica Beasley, communications executive at ICE