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Underground Rail Line Converted Into A Public Park [My Ideal City]

New park in London converts an abandoned rail tunnel into a civic space and mushroom garden.

PSFK Labs
PSFK Labs on April 28, 2013. @psfk

Taking cues from the successes of New York City’s High Line park and other derelict revival projects, a Pop Down park is being developed in London. Visitors will use an underground walkway that repurposes old mail-rail tunnels into a public green space. Maximizing urban spaces by incorporating natural elements is becoming a global trend. Likewise, re-imagining decaying urban environments as entirely new spaces serves to bring in new opportunities for commerce and cultural exchange.

In addition to increasing the city’s green space in a novel way, the Pop Down plan includes urban mushroom gardens along tunnel pathways, which will be lit by fiber optics and sunlight filtered through sculptural glass-fiber mushrooms located at street level. Additionally, the urban mushroom gardens will serve as a local source of food for the new pop-up concept ‘Funghi’ restaurants and cafes at each entrance. The design from the firm Fletcher Priest was selected as the winner of the International High Line for London Competition, which gathered 170 submissions, resulting in 20 short-listed entries and four runners-up.

As cities struggle to find available land for new development projects, there is a counter-movement that is reinvigorating existing urban infrastructure and buildings that in many cases have been neglected and fallen into disuse. A recent concept from the Hackney-based architecture studio Levitt Bernstein also reflects this theme of derelict revival. The firm has won a British housing competition with a proposal to turn disused parking garages in London into flexible homes. Similarly, the Greensgrow Farms in Philadelphia is a community project to turn abandoned housing lots into CSA farms for local use.

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The re-imagination and rehabilitation or ‘derelict revival’, of these decaying urban environments enhances existing structures and makes them suitable for public use, while retaining notes pointing to the original character of the past. These modern hybrids can serve as burgeoning civic centers, bringing new opportunities for commerce and cultural exchange.

Q. What abandoned spaces in your city or neighborhood would you revitalize and turn into recreational or sport areas?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site - or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #UrbanCanvas

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Over the next 6 months, PSFK will be covering urban trends that are changing the cities we live in at psfk.com/my-ideal-city. Contribute your ideas at the MyIdealCity site.

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