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New York’s Delancey Underground

February 27, 2012

One of the coolest things about New York’s High Line park is the way it makes use of an unconventional space and is both restricted and enabled by its urban context. Now there is a proposal for what is officially called Delancey Underground but has been more aptly nicknamed the “Low Line”. It too would look to an unusual space in the midst of one of the most densely populated places on earth for the creation of a park.

There is an disused trolley terminal underneath Delancey Street in New York’s Lower East side that architect James Ramsey, Dan Barasch of PopTech, and money manager R. Boykin Curry IV are hoping to transform into a roughly two acre underground park. The terminal, built in 1903, was for streetcars traveling over the Williamsburg bridge, but has been out of use since 1948. This is what it looks like now:

photo: Danny Fuchs via New York magazine

In order to provide sunlight to the underground park, there would be a system of fiber optic cables that would channel sunlight into the space and enable photosynthesis. They explain the technology side of it:

To build this park, we’re planning to use a cutting-edge version of existing technology– which we’ve already built in prototype. The system uses 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.  The light irrigated underground will carry the necessary wavelengths to support photosynthesis– meaning we can grow plants, trees, and grasses underground. The cables block harmful UV rays that cause sunburn, so you can leave the SPF-45 at home.

Raad Studio has developed a few renderings, so here is an idea of what the high-tech underground park might look like:

Delancey Underground recently started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter and has brought in $52k (and counting) in donations towards their $100k goal. The funds would enable them to create an installation using their solar technology to help convince community and city members that this seemingly science-fiction underground world can be a reality.

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