Philip Lange, courtesy of The Lowline
Philip Lange, courtesy of The Lowline

Take a Peek at the World's First Underground Park

Philip Lange, courtesy of The Lowline
Philip Lange, courtesy of The Lowline

New York tourists and locals alike love the High Line, an outdoor public park that’s constructed across an old freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side. Now, builders of the Lowline—the world’s first proposed underground park—have given visitors a peek at what the subterranean gardens might look like if they ever open to the public.

Like the High Line, the Lowline would transform an unused section of New York’s extensive transit system—in this case, a 48-year-old abandoned underground trolley terminal on the Lower East Side—into a public green space with vegetation and flowers. Solar-harnessing technology would provide the plants with much-needed sunlight, allowing them to flourish deep below ground.

The Lowline hasn't been built yet, and it probably won’t open for quite some time—if ever—due to legal red tape and funding issues, Gothamist reports. And despite several successful Kickstarter campaigns under its belt, the project still needs about $70 million to become a reality. However, involved parties recently opened up a preview space dubbed the "Lowline Lab" in a warehouse on Essex Street. Located just two blocks from the suggested Lowline site, the 1000-square-foot room serves as a simulation of how the park will look and operate. Someday, planners say, the Lowline could stretch for 50,000 square feet underground and include plants like live trees, pineapples, ferns, moss, and mushrooms.

Until the Lowline becomes real—a time the organization has optimistically slated for 2020—you can visit the Lab for free on weekends through spring 2016. Nowhere near New York? Take a peek at what the attraction might look like in the pictures below.

All photos by Philip Lange, courtesy of The Lowline

[h/t Gothamist]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]


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