Where do you build new green space in a crowded city like New York? One architecture firm in the city’s lower east side says “Why not underground?” In a project called Lowline, the firm is aiming at building a new community park beneath the streets of New York. According to the project’s Kickstarter page, the idea is to leverage space from an abandoned trolley terminal. Unlike other underground public areas around the world, like shopping centers or commuter tunnels, Lowline wants to build an ecosystem that feels like an actual outdoor park.
The targeted space is about 60,000 square feet (1.5 acres) and beneath vaulted, twenty-foot ceilings right under Delancey Street (in a historic trolley terminal). But what’s more exciting about the space is Lowline’s plan to fill it with sunlight. The organization has developed a cutting-edge method to distribute sunlight. They describe it as “a system of optics to gather sunlight, concentrate it, and reflect it below ground, where it is dispersed by a solar distributor dish embedded in the ceiling” and by their claims, the light will be sufficient to facilitate photosynthesis. This means that trees, grass, flowers, and other plants will all be possible underground.