A High Line for London

<p>Future Londoners may find their city much greener, if a bit stranger. In a recent contest, individuals and architecture firms sent in ideas for the city, ranging from creating a swim lane in a local canal for commuters to covering the subway trains with living mats of plants. The competition was meant to show how environmentally friendly public projects are able to improve London, <a href="http://www.landscapeinstitute.org/PDF/Contribute/IdeasCompetition-Brief31July.pdf">according to the contest's call for entries</a>.</p> <p>New York City's High Line park inspired the contest. The High Line is a blocks-long public garden planted on an abandoned elevated rail line. The London competition, hosted by the city's Garden Museum, Landscape Institute and mayor's office, wanted a London-specific project with the same spirit.</p> <p>The City of London has no immediate plans for building any of the imagined projects, however. Submissions did not have to be "constrained by any restrictions such as current planning law, land ownership, budgets or health and safety issues," the call for entries said.</p> <p>Garden Museum officials announced a winning idea, worth $4,000 (2,500 British pounds), on Monday (Oct. 8). Here we collect a few of our favorites from the ideas that were shortlisted.</p>

Local produce

Bus shelters are usually overlooked as open rooftop spaces — but not anymore. This idea proposes planting fruit trees, meadows and beehives atop bus stops. Local residents and schools would be responsible for caring for their own local mini-orchards.

Swam here this morning

The London architecture firm [Y/N] Studio proposed a clean, safe swimmer's lane in the Regent's Canal. Swimmers would be able to complete a seven-mile east-west commute in the canal. [Y/N] won $800 (500 British pounds) from the Garden Museum contest for this idea.

A fun(gi) park

This underground park seems like the High Line's dark twin. Different types of fungi would be planted in the unused "Mail Rail" tunnel underneath London. Mushroom-shaped fiberglass structures are supposed to carry light from street down into the tunnel. This idea won the London High Line contest's first prize.

Floating this idea

If land's too scarce in the city, then just extend its edges over the water. Here, a series of barges floating off of a wharf would provide parkland, farmland and wetland all at once.

A green makeover

Two shortlisted ideas call for plant-filled mats or structures. One idea covers buses, trams and trains with mobile gardens, while another idea drapes plants over skyscrapers, to help the buildings stay cool.

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