What can urban planners do to improve cities that suffer from a lack of green space?
The answer is to build underground, according to a pair of visionary New York-based architects.
They are campaigning to transform New York’s abandoned Essex Street Trolley Terminal in Manhattan’s lower east side into the world’s first underground park that would fix the area’s open space shortage.
The radical idea – developed by architects James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, a former NASA engineer – isn’t to just build a dingy underground space with artificial trees to create the illusion of a park.
Instead, the pair are developing a new technology that they say would channel sunlight underground using fibre optic cables so real plants and trees can grow.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which owns the trolley terminal is believed to have shown some interest in the Delancey Underground project – nicknamed ‘the Lowline’.
And there is clearly a lot of people getting excited about the project.
Less than two weeks after the co-founders recently launched the project on kickstarter – a funding website for creative projects – they exceeded their fundraising target of $100,000 (£63,000) in donations.
They say the funding will enable them to build a full-scale model or a “mini LowLine”, to show how the technology would work in reality.
They plan to build and display the model at the former Essex Street Market warehouse, just south of Dalencey Street, in September.
Ramsey and Barasch are working on a feasibility study and business plan for the underground park, which would shed light on areas such as how much the LowLine will cost to build.
Who would finance it is another issue.
Is the future for construction underground?
This is not the only underground city project being explored.
In Mexico, architects are behind an ambitious project to build a 65-story ‘Earthscraper’ 300 metres below ground.
While still at concept stage, they hope it will solve Mexico City’s housing space shortages.
For more information on the underground park project, visit the Delancey Underground official website.