There are often unused spaces lurking in cities, including London’s underground Post Office Railway that closed in 2003. Architectural firm Chetwoods recently released plans for a WELL-line that would transform the abandoned space into a green “super-highway”. The project would not only take polluting vehicles off the road, but actually purify the air and provide much-needed green space for city dwellers beleaguered by smog.
According to Chetwoods, 30 percent of London’s pollution can be attributed to the vans and trucks ferrying deliveries around the city. With the acceleration of online shopping, they said package volume in the city has quadrupled in the past 10 years, clogging roads with polluting vehicles. By restoring and transforming the old Post Office Railway between Paddington and Whitechapel into the WELL-line, 16,000 parcels an hour could be rocketed along the six-mile line, taking as many as 75 percent of trucks and vans off the road.
Further, the WELL-line would be completely sustainable, generating its own energy by burning trash.
But the WELL-line is more than just an ingenious underground transportation system. Chetwoods’ designs transform the space above ground as well, implementing technology tested in smoggy Beijing that cleans the air. The technology could potentially clean the air at rates of 30,000 cubic meters every hour. Instead of traffic, a linear park will make better use of the space, providing pockets of clean air and greenery for locals.
Laurie Chetwood said in a statement, “By creating a selection of permanent green oases across the densest parts of the city the WELL-line would bring back a joy which has been lost in the grey of urban design. Critically, nature is not merely a ‘green wash;’ the WELL-line re-envisages a new city sustained from below. The line would emerge at street level, delivering goods and services and cleaning the atmosphere.”
The WELL-line could act as a “Lung for London,” addressing the city’s pollution problem in a practical manner. Others see the exciting potential as well; the project was recently selected as one of four winners of the Royal Academy’s Urban Jigsaw design competition.
Images courtesy of Chetwoods