“Pop Down” Park May Be London Version the High Line
May 8, 2013 by Sarah Amandolare
The success of the High Line, an elevated park extending from the Meatpacking District up to 34th Street on Manhattan’s West Side, has begun inspiring similar projects. From Santa Fe to Washington D.C., cities are repurposing decaying urban structures, turning parking lots into gardens and abandoned rail yards into bike paths. But London took the repurposing trend a step further.
Santa Fe’s Railyard Park. Photo: Railyard Stewards.
Last summer, the Landscape Institute, Mayor of London and Garden Museum announced the International High Line for London Competition, requesting ideas for ways to repurpose a neglected part of the city. Now, NYC High Line creators Joshua David and Robert Hammond have selected a winner. Design firm Fletcher Priest’s “Pop Down,” which recreates “a forgotten network of tunnels under London,” beat out 170 submissions.
Runner up Y+N Studio’s LidoLine would transform part of Regent’s Canal into a lap pool. Photo: Y+N Studios.
Pop Down features an underground mushroom farm, the fruits of which will be served at so-called “Funghi” restaurants at park entrances, according to the firm’s website.
Plenty of greenery, including lichen and mosses, will grow in the park thanks to its dim, damp environment. Some daylight will enter the park through (see above image) “a series of sculptural glass-fibre ‘mushrooms’ at street level.”
Pop Down recalls another New York City project, the Lowline, a proposed park in the former Williamsburg Trolley Terminal beneath Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. Like Pop Down, the Lowline would incorporate daylight; sophisticated solar panels called “remote skylights” would channel sunlight down into the park. The technology, created by Raad Studio’s James Ramsey, would enable photosynthesis and plant growth underground.
Intriguing as the project may be to some, however, Pop Down is not without critics. Aaron Carpenter, writing for Landarchs.com, admits that he’s “grown a little tired” of High Line copycats, which he sees as having become “a cliché of landscape architecture.” And because London’s contest did not require that designers consider logistics, Pop Down could just be a pipe dream.