Fletcher Priest/Landscape Institute

The winner of the "High Line for London" competition isn't very high at all.

You might want to have a seat for this one: London could soon be getting an underground mushroom garden.

London was envious of New York's High Line project, so Mayor Boris Johnson and the Landscape Institute held an international competition called "A High Line for London" soliciting proposals for the transformation of industrial sites into public space. See the shortlist here.

The winner, "Pop Down" by Fletcher Priest Architects, was selected from over 170 entries. It imagines a renovation of the Mail Rail tunnel under Oxford Street that would see the old railway turned into an underground park, lit by way of fiberoptic mushroom sculptures above the ground. Those above-ground mushrooms would also delineate the tunnel's route for passersby on the street. (New York thought of this too -- you gotta wake up pretty early in the morning... )

If this does not seem to you like the kind of place you'd like to spend an afternoon, remember that the weather in London is awful, and that Oxford Street is a most crowded and unpleasant place to be in any weather. Unlike New York's High Line, which aims to draw people in, "Pop Down" seems like it might be a respite from the crowds. According to the Fletcher Priest website, "This will be an underground oasis for mosses, lichen and funghi, where the mycelium and basidiomycete are king."

Unfortunately, this was just a call for proposals, and there is no guarantee that anything will be built.

The runner-up, by the way, was the Y/N Studio entry "Lido Line" that proposed the creation of filtered-water commuter swim lanes in a canal, which would double as an ice skating highway in the winter.

Images courtesy of Fletcher Priest and Y/N Studio, via Landscape Institute.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.

  2. Times Square, 1970.
    Life

    The New York That Belonged to the City

    Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

  3. New public notice signs from Atlanta's Department of City Planning.
    Design

    Atlanta's Planning Department Makeover

    A new seal, a new name, and most importantly, new signs that people will actually read.

  4. "Gift Horse"—a skeletal sculpture of a horse by artist Hans Haacke—debuted on the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square in 2015.
    Design

    What To Do With Baltimore's Empty Confederate Statue Plinths?

    Put them to work, Trafalgar Square style.

  5. Maps

    This Guy's Never Met a Map He Didn't Want to Fix

    Just not always for the better: "I've deliberately designed maps that are deliberately horrible to look at, and succeeded."