Architecture

New York's Lowline subterranean park pipes sunlight underground

New York's Lowline subterranea...
The Lowline is an underground park planned for New York (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline is an underground park planned for New York (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline is an underground park planned for New York (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline is an underground park planned for New York (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will direct sunlight below ground using fiberoptics (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline will direct sunlight below ground using fiberoptics (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will feature space for relaxing, activities and cultural events (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline will feature space for relaxing, activities and cultural events (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline collects light from above ground using reflective parabolas, directs it underground using fiberoptic cables and distributes it using reflective dishes (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline collects light from above ground using reflective parabolas, directs it underground using fiberoptic cables and distributes it using reflective dishes (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will have a rich variety of plants and trees grown using the sunlight piped from above ground (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline will have a rich variety of plants and trees grown using the sunlight piped from above ground (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline is said to be located in "one of the least green areas of New York City" (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline is said to be located in "one of the least green areas of New York City" (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will be based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Image: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline will be based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will be located at the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal (Photo: Raad Studio)
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The Lowline will be located at the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal (Photo: Raad Studio)
An example of the reflective parabolas that will be used to collect sunlight for the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)
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An example of the reflective parabolas that will be used to collect sunlight for the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)
A full-scale model was built to test the Lowline's planned solar technology (Photo: Raad Studio)
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A full-scale model was built to test the Lowline's planned solar technology (Photo: Raad Studio)
A factory close the location of the Lowline was used to test the solar technology (Photo: Raad Studio)
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A factory close the location of the Lowline was used to test the solar technology (Photo: Raad Studio)
The sunlight will be both directed and distributed via reflection once below ground at the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)
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The sunlight will be both directed and distributed via reflection once below ground at the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)

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.

The Lowline will feature space for relaxing, activities and cultural events (Image: Raad Studio)
The Lowline will feature space for relaxing, activities and cultural events (Image: Raad Studio)

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.

An example of the reflective parabolas that will be used to collect sunlight for the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)
An example of the reflective parabolas that will be used to collect sunlight for the Lowline (Photo: Raad Studio)

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

Lowline Video 2014

2 comments
James Donohue
It's Not going to work out as well as the High Line, which is an elevated rail line, turned linear park, and was already covered with wild vegetation before being re-purposed as a park. The Low Line is going to need electric lighting to supplement the sunlight-via-fiber-optic system , especially at night... I will be the first to recommend LED Lighting. Also, there is another abandoned rail line in Queens, the former LIRR Rockaway Line, which is elevated, mostly on earthen embankments. The Rockaway Line is 3 or 4 miles long, running between Rego Park and Ozone Park. But I digress... The Low Line will also need Ventilation , and Elevators to make it handicapped accessible. I think it is important to point out that the Low Line, despite any Reflectors, Fiber Optics, or Skylights, is going to be a net consumer of electric power from the grid.
Timey
What about safety? It needs thousands of cameras and police patrols because once some screaming headlines appear in the NY Post and on Fox5 TV "news" about any crime underground it may well be abandoned by New Yorkers