New York could get world’s first underground park

The initiators of the so-called Lowline have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development of the project. If built, it would be the world’s first underground park – and a model for how to create green spaces in dense urban environments.

The project proposes transforming an abandoned underground trolley terminal in Manhattan’s Lower East Side into a 4,000-square-metre public park. According to the Lowline website, the proposed solar technology involves the creation of a “remote skylight” that would direct sunlight via a parabolic collector to dome-shaped panels which then distribute natural light throughout the park. The technology would even transmit the necessary wavelengths of light to support photosynthesis, allowing plants and trees to thrive below ground. Artificial light would be used when sunlight is not available.

A 2012 feasibility study concluded that the project is not only technically feasible, but would also greatly improve the local economy and adjacent transit hub. Designed by James Ramsey of Raad Studio, the park offers an innovative solution for dense urban environments that want to build more green spaces.

The group aims to raise USD 200,000 through the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to help finance the park’s technical development along with a public science laboratory that will open this autumn to let people see the experimental solar technology up close, according to a Dezeen article. In a first Kickstarter campaign in 2012, the organisation raised over USD 155,000 from 3,300 donors. If the latest campaign is a success, the group hopes to work with city officials to raise USD 60 million in a capital campaign, with the goal of opening the park in 2018.


Photo credit: Peter Durand, flickr/Creative Commons

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