New York's Lowline subterranean park pipes sunlight underground

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The Lowline is an underground park planned for New York (Image: Raad Studio)

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Squeezing public spaces into cities that are increasingly built-up gets ever more difficult. One unusual solution is to build such spaces underground. That's the plan for New York's planned Lowline park, which will see an old trolley terminal renovated and illuminated with sunlight via fiberoptics.

Gizmag has featured the Lowline previously, albeit under a different guise. The project was first unveiled as the Delancey Underground Project in 2011. Since then, over US$155,000 has been raised to test the solar technology, plus a full-scale model was built that provided proof-of-concept. And, of course, its name has changed with a tip of the hat to its forbear, the High Line.

The Lowline will be located at the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The site is said to be located in "one of the least green areas of New York City," meaning it would be a welcome addition. Its close proximity to the Essex Street subway stop, meanwhile, would provide access for visitors and footfall from commuters.

According to the Lowline's website, the aim of the project is not just to create a public space, but also to show how technology can be used to transform cities. In addition to providing a place for relaxing, activities and cultural events as you'd expect with any park, the Lowline will also seek to overcome its subterranean limitations to have a rich variety of plants and trees.

In order to provide the light that plants and trees need to grow and to illuminate the space generally, sunlight will be collected via reflective parabolas above ground. These will be placed in areas that receive plenty of sunlight throughout the year and will be able to align themselves to face the sun as it moves, maximizing exposure.

The light will then be directed underground via fiber-optic cables and transmitted to reflective dishes on the ceiling of the space that will direct and distribute it down into the space. The technology is said to transmit the wavelengths of light necessary for photosynthesis, which will allow plants and trees to grow.

Work is ongoing with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of New York, to bring the Lowline to fruition. It is hoped that construction will begin by 2017 and the park will open the following year.

The video below provides an introduction to the Lowline.

Source: The Lowline

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