Robyn Shapiro is Director of Operations at the Lowline, an effort to build the world's first underground park in New York City in an abandoned trolley terminal using innovative solar technology to channel sunlight underground allowing for photosynthesis.
Do you remember Super Mario World, the famous video game? Robyn compared New York with the game, New York's street are challenging every citizen, the underground is a dark, nasty, smelling place. Not really a good environment. Lowline chose an area around the Williamsburg Bridge, an underground building which was not touched for 60 years, 3.5 meters tall, still with the typical architecture of an underground - and covered with graffitis.
How to make a livable area out of it, an area people would like to hang around?
Underground gardening is the key. Lowline created a prototype of solar distributors to bring down the natural sunlight. It's a kind of a sunlight tube collecting sunlight from above. This natural sunlight is needed for photosynthesis of the plants.
The prototype was funded via kickstarter and is still a best case for an environmental and urban designing project on the crowdsourcing plattform. But the problem will be creating value locally and city-wide - it's not possible to support local businesses so much or have open spaces like in every other park, but it's a technical innovation, an open space innovation and underground space will be reused.
More information: a photo gallery with fascinating skribbles.