© Fletcher Priest Architects

8 October 2012

‘Pop Down’ by Fletcher Priest Architects has been selected as the winner of a competition to find new ideas for green space in the capital

‘Pop Down’, which imagines the transformation of the disused ‘Mail Rail’ tunnel under Oxford Street into an urban mushroom garden lit at street level by sculptural glass-fibre mushrooms, was chosen from 170 designs submitted to the open ideas competition launched by the Landscape Institute in partnership with the Mayor of London and Garden Museum in July.

The judging panel, which included Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of New York’s High Line, Dr Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain, Mark Brearley, Head of Design for London, and leading landscape architects Kim Wilkie and Jo Gibbons were so impressed by the quality of shortlisted ideas that they not only selected a runner-up but nominated three highly commended designs.


The Lido Line by [Y/N] Studio. An idea to insert a clean, safe ‘basin’ in the Regent’s Canal in which to swim the ‘Lido Line’ from Little Venice to Limehouse.

Highly commended:

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.
Barge Walk by Erika Richmond and Peggy Pei-Chi Chi. A design to re-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. An idea to make use of the many empty roof spaces of bus shelters to create raised gardens with sparrow colonies, insect hotels and miniature wildflower meadows. Each bus shelter garden would be looked after by its local community, school or street.

Speaking about the competition and winning design the judges said:

“Between the ‘Pop Down’ and ‘Lido Line’ proposals and the three highly commended entries, the competition puts forward a group of creative ideas that are in some cases fantastic, in others realistic. They all have the power to help us look at London and green infrastructure in innovative and unexpected ways.”
Joshua David, co-founder, Friends of the High Line

“The winner and runner-up have this strong linear nature connecting neighbourhoods and the city. Whether or not they are ever realised they help people to see the city in a different light.”
Robert Hammond, co-founder, Friends of the High Line

“The response to this competition shows how many ideas are just waiting to happen, on, over or under the streets of London”
Dr Penelope Curtis, Director Tate Britain

“During this Olympic summer it was clear that London’s public spaces are coming alive as never before. There is now a popular appetite for making our outdoors more useable and more wonderful. This competition has revealed how much talent and how many good ideas we have at our disposal as we work together to make a great outdoors.”
Mark Brearley, Head of Design for London, Greater London Authority

“The breadth of great ideas shows the huge interest in making our cities more liveable, and ‘Pop Down’ captures the imagination as does the ‘Lido Line’ in transforming an attitude to the critical value of green infrastructure.”
Jo Gibbons, FLI, Director of J & L Gibbons Landscape Architects

“A competition that has stimulated some free-spirited ideas for making connections across London”
Kim Wilkie, CMLI, Principal, Kim Wilkie Associates Landscape Architects

The competition:

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 generated designs that range from massive city-wide strategies to small-scale community projects. The locations selected span the whole of the city, and include the West End, Blackfriars, Shoreditch High Street, a stretch of the A20 in south London and the ‘Square Mile’. Several themes appear to dominate the shortlisted designs: the significance of journeys, links and transport infrastructure and how they impact on our lives – 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.

The shortlisted designs will be on display at the Garden Museum until the 21st October. An online gallery of the shortlist is viewable at http://www.landscapeinstitute.org/events/competitions/highline.php

The other 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.