Spark Park

Jeffrey Holzer, Emily Larkin, USA


Explanatory Note

The space underneath the Tolbuhinsky Bridge was a neglected and uninhabitable space for the community. Spark Park strives to connect with the surrounding context, engage the people, and operate as a newly regenerated gathering site. 

Passive, active, interactive, aesthetic, and gathering programs are the foundational opportunities within the site to improve the community on a social hierarchy. 

Spark Park
Spark Park

Rooted from the idea of darkness and unusable space, the inspiration of creating a light park underneath the Tolbuhinsky Bridge remedies the problem of fearful space in order to create newly discovered socially active space. The goal is to enlighten an energized environment and brighten the prideful Yaroslavl identity. Yaroslavl influences and precedents ignited to reimagine the historical resilience of the city through an active landscape, to spark inspiration, and encourage a hope to future generations. This is accomplished while dimming uncertainty and focusing on illuminating social potential in the dark space under the bridge. The warm atmosphere emphases recreational opportunities that engage residents to appreciate, highlight, and idealize the significance of Yaroslavl in an unconventional space. Incorporating light as the main program enlightens the space and encourages the community to engage, take ownership, and beam with exuberant pride in a space unique than any other. 

Technical description 

The most important aspects of Spark Park, from a materiality standpoint, are the lighting. In order to create the mesmerizing light displays and interactive pieces, lights powered by solar panels along the sides of the bridge are intertwined through the meadow areas through fiber-optics to create a flowing, moving meadow underneath the bridge. Additionally, interactive lights are utilized in the water on a sequence grid to shoot human operated beams from the top of the bridge to the bottom. Finally, light and movement are seen in day activities by the specific material veneered on the columns of the bridge. This refracts lights and shadows throughout the surface of the material to create flashing reflections powered by human shadow and movement in both day and night.

The layout of the park is symmetrical to both sides of the river. Entering the North end, the first space is a gathering plaza for people to have the opportunity for various spontaneous activities of recreation or relaxation. Adjacent to this space is a lawn area that accommodates active recreation and can service the plaza if needed. Encompassing these areas is a meadow that increases both human aesthetic quality and environmental biodiversity. Once through the meadow, a terraced amphitheater engages the water, allows for large active gatherings, and acts as a barrier to control flooding waters. At the base of the terrace is another plaza space for social opportunity. Stemming from here, interactive wetland areas allow for users to walk on top of the water and experience the wetland grasses first hand. 



project materials / проектные материалы





project materials / проектные материалы


The park is intended to have numerous social functions throughout the different programs in the park to bring life to the inhabitable space under the bridge. The plaza spaces can be

used as social recreational spaces, resting areas, or transform to house market and bazaar kiosks. The lawns can be used for active recreational play, resting areas or cater the plazas such as parking for the market alignment. The meadow space is intended for strolling, walking, or exploration in ecological or aesthetic purposes for biophilic connection to nature. Lastly, the amphitheater is functioned for gathering, resting, or used for shows such as presentations, movies, or performances. Additionally, the walkable wetland intends to function as educational hands on experience and to be fully immersed into the design.

The park contains numerous materials to introduce texturally and visually interesting spaces within the site. Plaza spaces and hardscape areas contain limestone and sandstone pavers to reference geologic significance to Russia. The terraced area is elevated via concrete terracing with turfed areas between the concrete to provide spaces of texture contrast. Additionally, turf is placed throughout three lawn areas, while the meadow is made of native grasses and fiber-optic lights. The wetland contains native grasses that use a steel mesh level with the water surface to allow users to walk out onto the water and interact with the native grasses through hands on experience. 

The overall park dimensions are at length: 394 meters and width: 217 meters, at the widest point. Other dimensions of subspaces in the park are as follows:

  • -  North Plaza: 71 x 53 meters

  • -  North Meadow: 98 x 94 meters

  • -  North Amphitheatre: 36 x 119 meters

  • -  North Water Plaza: 24 x 49 meters

  • -  North Wetland Space: 26 x 59 meters

  • -  South Plaza: 11 x 38 meters

  • -  South Lawn: 34 x 43 meters

  • -  South Amphitheatre: 11 x 39 meters

  • -  South Water Plaza: 9 x 36 meters

  • -  South Wetland Space: 31 x 56 meters

    Construction for this park would include the plaza spaces as well as the waterfall water feature on the south end of the site. Lawns, planters, and meadows would need organization to function as intended from a maintenance standpoint. Lastly, the terraced amphitheater requires concrete risers to create the elevation change and turf between these risers to create the design. 


Jeffrey Holzer

– A fourth year student studying Landscape Architecture at The Pennsylvania State University. Hailing from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, I have experience working for a small design firm specializing in recreational facilities. Currently I am interning for The Arboretum at Penn State to diversify, expand, and solidify my plant material knowledge, understanding, and appreciation. Upon graduation, I will pursue a career by improving the built environment within the urban and community design fields.

Emily Larkin

– A fourth year student of Landscape Architecture studying at The Pennsylvania State University. Originally from the Poconos, Pennsylvania I have landscape design experience with a design build firm where I communicated directly with clients to design their residential landscapes. Additionally, I am currently interning with nature trail proposal and construction with BSA/LA. During post-graduation I plan to improve urban infrastructures on an intimate scale by working in urban residential. 

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