PDP London to create green trail along Victorian rail viaducts

Low Line Commons aims to transform the arches from being a barrier to a seam sensitively knitted into the multiple layers of the local context.
– Pedro Roos

PDP London have won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) international design competition to create a new green trail in South London that will make use of Victorian rail viaducts that are no longer in use.

The Low Line project was conceived by local resident David Stephens in 2012 as a means of repurposing the disused rail infrastructure that runs along the south of the River Thames as public space.

The RIBA competition, launched in July last year, challenged teams to present a green and creative vision and strategy for its development.

PDP's winning proposal, the Low Line Commons, saw off competition from 81 other submissions with four elements: "productive green infrastructure, convivial public space, diverse and green economy, and historical and cultural connections."

Comprising a walkway that runs along the base of the viaducts, places to rest and gather and spaces for businesses, it is aimed at celebrating the heritage of the railway arches and reanimating derelict and forgotten sites along their route.

The trail will connect well-known landmarks like Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral and London Bridge Station.

In addition to creating new green links between places and encouraging more active lifestyles for users, it will incorporate a sustainable drainage system, improve air quality and increase eco-diversity with tree planting, community gardens and new wildlife habitats.

Pedro Roos, Partner at PDP London Architects, said: "Low Line Commons aspires to be a shared natural and cultural resource of the people, by the people and for the people. It aims to transform the arches from being a barrier to a seam sensitively knitted into the multiple layers of the local context."

The Low Line is described as a long-term project that will be developed gradually as new opportunities and strands of funding become available.

London  PDP London  public space 
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