The winner of an international competition to transform the path forged by Southwark's old railway arches has been announced.
Last year, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) challenged architects, artists, engineers, ecologists and designers to come up with London's answer to the Manhattan High Line: the elevated park that snakes through New York City along an abandoned railroad. The idea was to similarly take advantage of disused rail infrastructure this side of the pond — incorporating the Victorian viaducts of Bankside, London Bridge, and Bermondsey into a new ecological walking destination. And now we get to see what that will look like.
Named 'Low Line Commons', the winning proposal puts both nature and the local community at the heart of the project. It's the brainchild of PDP London architects, who worked with Macfarlane and Associates Landscape Architects, Greengage sustainability consultants and Studio 4215 environment consultants to include tons of green infrastructure — from community gardens to wildlife habitats.
The Low Line Commons also proposes a sustainable drainage system that uses ecological engineering methods like bioswale planting and street-level rain gardens to avoid surface flooding and store water.
The winner was selected by an evaluation panel comprised of Lund Trust co-founder Lisbet Rousing; RIBA adviser Graham Morrios; Adam White, the president of the Landscape Institute; and Donald Hyslop, the Chair of Better Bankside BID and Low Line Steering Group.
Hyslop said the Low Line Commons proposal emerged victorious because of the way in which makes "people its chief concern — placing communities and ecology at its heart."
One consequence of this inclusive approach is that we might have to wait a while to see the Low Line in its final form. Now that the winning proposal has been chosen, PLP London's vision will be developed further in consultation with local businesses and the wider community.
A £1m grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund and a further £1m of investment from Low Line project partners enable will enable its visionaries to work in greater detail and start to deliver the next phases of the project. These will be implemented incrementally as different pots of funding become available and new partnership opportunities arise.
Can't wait that long? There are a couple of destinations that have already been developed as Low Line hubs. Head to Flat Iron Square or Old Union Yard Arches (pictured above) to get a better flavour of what's to come.