Last night, international design firm Gensler received the London Planning Award for Best Conceptual Project for its latest vision: London Underline. The proposal explores the potential of an underground bicycle and pedestrian park beneath the streets of London. Not only does this public interest design utilize existing abandoned space, but also generates the electricity to support itself simply by being used.
Inspired to find an effective solution for the overcrowding currently affecting London, the London Underline takes into account the city's population growth. As the city struggles to accommodate its highest population in history, past efforts to control density coupled with economic hardships have led to infrastructure surpluses and abandoned buildings. In response to this, the extensive subterranean network of the London Underline proposes a city-wide connection by reinventing its existing infrastructure. Forgotten metro tunnels provide the space, catering to the ever growing demands for public transportation networks without the challenge of imposing them onto the bustling streets above.
Through the incorporation of kinetic energy technology, the London Underline becomes a smart solution not only in terms of space, but also in sustainability. Kinetic foot tiles activated simply by people walking on them generate the energy needed to power the underground highway, helping London adhere to more environmentally-friendly practices. Trevor To, a Gensler designer, commented, "By harnessing the kinetic energy of every one's footsteps, a whole new urban space is unlocked underneath the city. The self-sustaining approach to urban infrastructure is key to a carbon-neutral community, and London could lead the world once again in merging tradition with innovation to create a better future."
Additionally, the London Underline offers cultural and retail spaces throughout the network, encouraging public interaction below street-level by providing community space. Further growth would be accommodated by designated space for commercial activities and events, thus allowing for adaptable function as new needs for space arise.