© Landscape Institute 2012

28 September 2012

A mushroom garden beneath Oxford Street, a network of lidos to rival cycle lanes and buses, trams and trains transformed into mobile gardens all shortlisted in a competition to find new design ideas for green space in the capital.

Selected from over 170 entries, 20 green infrastructure designs have been shortlisted in a competition launched by the Landscape Institute, Mayor of London and Garden Museum to find new ideas for green space in the capital. Inspired by the success of New York’s High Line, an urban park which has transcended the commonly accepted role of an urban park, the competition has inspired a shortlist of ideas that range from massive city-wide strategies, like using the empty space on top of buses, trams and trains to create mobile gardens, to small-scale community projects, like miniature urban woodlands in London’s forgotten spaces. The locations selected span the whole of the city, and include the disused ‘Mail Rail’ tunnel under Oxford Street, the forgotten Fleet River in Blackfriars, Shoreditch High Street, a stretch of the A20 in south London and the ‘Square Mile’. Several themes appear to dominate the shortlisted entries: the significance of journeys, links and transport infrastructure and how they impact on our lives is addressed by many of the entries. And, the power of water – whether it’s the Thames or some of London’s forgotten waterways or issues like water scarcity, flooding and pollution, many of the designs make use of water in their designs.

An online gallery of the shortlist is viewable at http://www.landscapeinstitute.org/events/competitions/highline.php 

Speaking about the shortlist Sue Illman, President of the Landscape Institute said:
“The challenge was to come up with a public design project that went beyond the commonly accepted role of an urban park and engaged communities with the benefits of green infrastructure to improve the way we live in our cities. We didn’t know what we would get but having just completed the shortlisting we’re amazed at the response and quality of ideas. Some designs are aimed at being city-wide strategies and others are small and could be replicable throughout the capital. Perhaps the most exciting thing is the impressive breadth and scope of the entries. They speak volumes about a new generation of design talent ready to engage with green urbanism to create beautiful places designed to provide benefits like flood management, urban cooling, green transport links and ecological connectivity.”

Matthew Pencharz, Environment Advisor to the Mayor of London said: “Our green spaces are vital for our health, quality of life and economic prosperity. They play an important part in making London such an attractive city in which to live, work and invest. We are benefiting from the parks that were created in the past and we need to ensure we are planning and designing green spaces that are both beautiful and functional for the next generation to enjoy. The competition entries demonstrate a wealth of creative thinking and showcase exciting ideas that could shape our future green spaces.”

The 20 shortlisted designs:
  • Green Arteries by Bell Phillips Architects, Spacehub and Aecom. A scheme to transform London’s flyovers into productive and beautiful green arteries to reduce the heat effect and traffic noise and encourage biodiversity.
  • Green Lung Retrofit by Jerry Tate Architects. Transform Tower 42 into a tower of green. Wrap ‘green jackets’ around the City’s offices to cool excess heat.
  • [Re]Structure by Scott Badham and Ian Fisher. Biocentric ‘mats’ and ‘sleeves’ to be layered onto buses, trams and trains to create mobile gardens.
  • A Green North Bank by Yue Rao and Chuanwen Yu. The creation of a new linear park from Blackfriars Bridge to Lambeth Bridge.
  • Pop Down by Fletcher Priest Architects. Create an urban mushroom garden lit by sculptural glass-fibre mushrooms at street level inside the ‘Mail Rail’ tunnels beneath Oxford Street.
  • Street Orchard by Laura Rowland and Claire Beard. Create miniature orchards around existing bus shelters to become shared cultivation areas. Insulated beehives placed within the trees and sloped sedum roof would catch falling fruit and collect rainwater.
  • Grow Box by Atkins Landscape Architects. A do-it-yourself green infrastructure toolbox containing product and professional advice vouchers to empower local community groups to improve their local playgrounds, parks and allotments. A small-scale initiative aimed at improving green infrastructure in London one small step at a time.
  • The New River by Place Design + Planning. Breathing new life into a forgotten waterway and collecting fresh water at source in Stoke Newington.
  • Retracing London’s Drovers’ Road by Howard Miller and Rowena May. Revitalising the ancient route used to move livestock from pasture to market between Hackney and Bishopsgate, includes rowan trees and new ‘slow landscape’ areas.
  • London Parks Library by Me & Sam Ltd. Establish small book exchanges within London’s many parks and green spaces. A record card inside each book would tell the story of the invisible network and movement of book and people through London’s parks.
  • Barge Walk by Erika Richmond and Peggy Pei-Chi Chi. Connect people with water via the creation of a linear park, farm and wetland on floating barges at the edge of Canary Wharf.
  • Bus Roots by Wynne James. Utilize empty roof spaces of bus shelters to create raised gardens with sparrow colonies, insect hotels and miniature wildflower meadows. Each garden to be looked after by its local community, school or street.
  • Lea Valley Rain Farm by Andres Briones. Create a ‘rain farm’ in the Lea Valley to store run-off and rainwater to serve the local neighbourhood.
  • The Lido Line by [Y/N] Studio. Insert a clean, safe ‘basin’ in the Regent’s Canal in which to swim the ‘Lido Line’ from Little Venice to Limehouse. Includes a multi-layered membrane and oxygenating reeds in key locations.
  • High, Low, Fast and Fluid Lines by Terra Studio. A series of four green infrastructure schemes: a fast commuter cycleway on raised railway viaducts, ‘air rail’ gardens beside railway sidings, a new iconic green bridge over Blackfriars Bridge and a floating flower show on static pontoons on the River.
  • Roots for the Future by Hassell, We Made That and AOC. A network of ‘indus-tree-ous’ miniature woodlands planted in London’s left-over spaces (parking lots, derelict land).
  • Fleet River Channel by Richard Reynolds. Re-instate the shallow stream of the Fleet, one of London’s lost waterways, in a cutting one storey beneath street level at Blackfriars.
  • Suburban Kiss by Ireland Albrecht Landscape Architects. Transform London’s arterial routes into new green spaces linking the Green Belt to the city. Road verges and pavements become multi-functional landscapes for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Bridge-It by HTA. An idea to unlock inaccessible transport corridors around the existing transport network – green linear parks built over, under and beside railway lines, opening up cycling and walking networks.
  • Old Street Green by Mailen Design. Transform the traffic roundabout above Old Street Underground station into a new garden to connect the underground space with the exterior street space.

The shortlisted entries are on display at the Garden Museum until the 21st October 2012.

The winners will be announced on Monday 8th October as part of the Landscape Institute’s Green Infrastructure Day at the Garden Museum.  The day is programmed as part of the Museum’s High Line Symposium 5-8th October.