Back in July 2019, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) launched a new competition. A Green Vision for the Low Line called on architects, ecologists, engineers, and artists to develop design proposals for the path forged by the old railway viaducts through Bankside, London Bridge, and Bermondsey — otherwise known as the Low Line.
Inspired by Manhattan's celebrated High Line, the Low Line will use the capital's rail infrastructure to create a new ecological walking destination that connects neighbourhoods and improves the local economy. And the winner of RIBA's competition gets to shape what that will look like.
So far, the judges have whittled their shortlist down to just five entries — take a look at them below. Which one do you think deserves to win?
The Low Line Commons
By creating a landscaped promenade that connects neighbourhoods and brings together currently disjointed arches, parks and public spaces, The Low Line Commons aims to build a vibrant district, generate jobs and create appealing places to walk and be.
Crossings and Clearings
This project has the industries that exist within the railway viaducts of the Low Line at its heart. It will introduce crossings, clearings and parades, allowing people to cross the path of the arches and bringing disused spaces into play. Vacant arches will become shared yards for people and the project will connect the Low Line to the green spaces that can already be found nearby, creating biodiverse urban hedgerows.
The proposed Breathing Spaces walking route offers a healthy, green alternative to the surrounding noisy and polluted urban environment. It aims to encourage nature back into the heart of the city and mitigate pollution. The idea is to make the Low Line a city-scale visitor attraction, an oasis for local citizens and a refuge for nature.
The Low Line Assembly Toolkit
The Toolkit covers four areas - Ecological, Activation, Opportunistic and Infrastructure – and will be distributed along the length of the Low Line, encouraging local people and businesses to get involved and bring their own character to their neighbourhood.
A Circular Low Line
This project aims to preserve the local values of the existing communities along the Low Line. It will build a series of circular environments at points along the route, which will be fuelled by a new green vision with biodiversity, sustainability and the circular economy at its heart.
At the time of writing, the five shortlisted proposals are being exhibited at Bankside Space. On 14 November the showcase moves to London Bridge Hive, and finally to Southwark Council Offices for 18-19 November. The winner will be revealed in early December. You can learn more about the Low Line project here.