A ‘Low Line’ for London?

A proposal to turn a disused tunnel into an urban mushroom garden has won the Landscape Institute’s international competition to design a High Line for London.

Pop Down, by Fletcher Priest
Pop Down, by Fletcher Priest

‘Pop Down’ by Fletcher Priest Architectstriumphed over 170 other proposals for green infrastructure in London, by practices including Jerry Tate Architects, Bell Philips Architects, Atkins and Hassell.

The proposal imagines the disused Mail Rail tunnel under Oxford Street transformed into an urban mushroom garden, lit at street level by sculptural glass-fibre mushrooms to provide a Tolkein-esque retreat at the heart of London’s commercial hub.

The competition, in partnership with the Garden Museum and the Mayor of London, was inspired by the success of New York’s High Line, an urban park built on a former rail-line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side. The judging panel included the co-founders of the High Line, Joshua David and Robert Hammond.

The runner up was [Y/N] Studio’s ‘The Lido Line’. The Line proposes the insertion of a clean, safe ‘basin’ in the Regent’s Canal in which to swim from Little Venice to Limehouse, providing the opportunity to cool down on the daily commute.

The Lido Line, by [Y/N] Studio
The Lido Line, by [Y/N] Studio

Highly commended was Wynne James’ ‘Bus Roots‘, using the space on top of bus shelters to cultivate miniature wildflower meadows accommodating sparrow colonies and insect hotels.

Also highly commended was Erika Richmond and Peggy Pei-Chi Chi’s ‘Barge Walk’, the creation of a linear park, farm and wetland, on the floating barges at the edge of Canary Wharf, and HTA’s ‘Bridge-It’; opening up cycling and walking networks around railway lines,

Jerry Tate architects’ ‘Green Lung Retrofit’ imagines wrapping ‘green jackets’ around the City’s offices to cool excess heat.

Mark Brearley, Head of Design for London, says; ‘The breadth of great ideas show the huge interest in making our cities more liveable, and ‘Pop Down’ captures the imagination as does the ‘Lido Line’ in transforming an attitude to the critical value of green infrastructure.’

(Re) Structure, by Scott Badham + Ian Fisher
(Re) Structure, by Scott Badham + Ian Fisher

The competition is for proposals at this stage. However, a spokeswoman for the Landscape Institute has suggested that there is scope to turn some of the ideas into a reality.

The shortlisted designs will be on display at the Garden Museum until the 21st October.

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