In an old market building in the Lower East Side, a lush miniature scale version of a park is blooming inside. With the Highline finally completed, the next new park we can hopefully look forward to is the Lowline.
There are a lot of abandoned underground spaces throughout the city, many former train stations and tunnels. One of these is an old trolley terminal that is still visible from the platforms at the Essex Street subway station. It’s a vast space with minimal reminders of its past and one idea on how to reuse it is to convert it into a park.
The Lowline is far from reality but visitors to their lab can see the potential thanks to a model of what park advocates want to do with the space. As you enter, there are large billboards that describe the project and what efforts the Lowline team have made so far to try to bring this to fruition.
One very interesting and important question is how to bring in natural light to the underground park. Through a combination of reflectors and tubes, sunlight will reach down and into the space and just like above ground, the light will move around the space, mimicking the path the sun would travel.
The scale model is very lush and there’s a variety of plants growing in there. Greenery not only grows up from terraced planters but also grow down from the ceiling reminiscent of stalactites. Walking around the model, one can see moss, ferns and lots of tropical plants and even a pineapple growing among the foliage.
It’s a teaser for what may come and I think an underground park would definitely be a good use of the space. Think of it as one way Nature can reclaim a bit of land now that man has no use for it anymore.