CityBuzz: The “Mushroom Garden” underground park

The High Line Park in Manhattan–an old elevated railway transformed into a snaking park trail–has officially sparked a frenzy of excitement about rehabilitating old transit areas into green space, even through the idea has actually been around for a while (Paris’s Promenade Plantée debuted in 1993). But what happens when you’ve got an out of commission rail line–underground?

The defunct “Mail Rail” tunnel — a narrow gauge railway used for transporting mail around London–closed in 2003 and UK’s Landscape Institute, in partnership with the Mayor of London and the Garden Museum, has run a design competition to decide what to do with it. The 170 entries included some wonderfully creative ideas, from public swimming area to rehabilitated wetlands and a floating park. The winner: London-based Fletcher Priest Architects created a plan to turn the tunnels into an urban mushroom farm and pedestrian stroll. The pedestrian walkway would be lit at street level by glass-fiber, mushroom-shaped sculptures and the ‘shroom crop could supply pop-up “Funghi” cafes at the tunnel’s entrance and exit.

Check out the plans for the “Pop Down” here: http://www.fletcherpriest.com/High-Line-for-London/competitions/. Fungi are truly wonderful and under-appreciated organisms. In addition to providing food and visual delight for the visitors, the colony can help clean toxins from the soil. This is a wonderfully creative concept for a public park and truly unique–hopefully it will will be built!

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