London set to get its own “High Line” park
Landscaped walkway will enhance emerging art district on south side of Thames
By Anny Shaw. Web only
Published online: 12 July 2013
London’s answer to New York’s High Line park began to take shape in June after two London architecture firms won a competition to design a landscaped walkway just south of the River Thames that will link new and existing galleries, public works of art and an open-air auditorium. Erect Architecture and the landscape architects J & L Gibbons beat 100 entries from 21 countries to design the promenade, which will stretch from the Garden Museum next to Lambeth Palace (the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury) to the site of the former 17th-19th century pleasure gardens in Vauxhall.
“The idea is to connect the gallery district that is emerging in Vauxhall in a green and interesting way,” says Chris Law, one of the directors of Vauxhall One, a group of local businesses that launched the competition in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects. The area currently boasts the contemporary art spaces Gasworks and Beaconsfield, and a new gallery called Cabinet is due to be built this summer. Damien Hirst’s gallery also opens on Newport Street next year. There are further plans to use the abandoned railway arches next to Vauxhall station as exhibition spaces.
The arrival of the US embassy in Vauxhall in 2017 has also been a catalyst for the regeneration project, which is due for completion the same year. Last year the embassy paid for Joshua David and Robert Hammond, the co-founders of the New York High Line, to give a talk at the Garden Museum on designing urban green spaces. The High Line, which opened on top of a 1.5-mile stretch of abandoned elevated railway in 2009, regularly hosts site-specific commissions, exhibitions and performances. The London version, dubbed the “Missing Link”, is also due to feature large-scale works of art. “At the moment, we are focusing on the green infrastructure,” Law says, adding that the next phase will involve commissioning public sculptures.
Funding for the winning design, which takes its cue from Vauxhall Gardens, an amusement park that operated from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century, will come from local businesses, which are each donating a percentage of their business rates to generate £4m over five years. Further funding is due to come from Transport For London and the mayor’s office.
The trend for cultivating green spaces in the city looks set to spread, with plans for a pedestrian bridge incorporating a garden being developed by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick and the engineering firm, Arup. Heatherwick, who was selected by Transport For London after a competitive tendering process, has been working with the actress Joanna Lumley on ideas for the “Garden Bridge” over the Thames, which has also been hailed as an alternative to New York’s High Line.
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