Inspired by the High Line revitalization, which saw New York City turn an abandoned above-ground railway line into a public park, London held an international design competition called “A High Line for London.” The contest asked participants for proposals on how the city could best reuse and transform one of its old industrial sites into a public space. The city received almost 170 entries, and picked a winner this week.
The winner, “Pop Down,” by Fletcher Priest Architects, is somewhat unusual in its concept (the entire short-list can be seen here). The plan calls the repurposing of the Mail Rail tunnel under Oxford street, turning into an underground park complete with a variety of lichens, mushrooms, and mosses. Lighting for the park would be provided by fiberoptic mushroom sculptures situated above the ground (I’m sensing a mushroom theme here). If a cold and dank underground tunnel as re-imagined public space doesn’t sound appealing, it should be noted that the park makes a lot of sense in a city where it rains most of the year.
Unfortunately, there’s no indication the park will be built, as the competition was just a call for proposals. Still, it’s encouraging that cities around the world are starting to consider how to creatively reuse old spaces. Now, if we could only convince our own mayor to start to even consider a similarly ambitious and thoughtful project. [Atlantic Cities]
Igor Bonifacic is a writer working for the Toronto Standard. You can follow him on twitter at @igorbonifacic.