Camden is one step closer to getting its own park in the sky. The Camden Highline, which would transform a three-quarter-mile stretch of abandoned railway viaducts into a verdant walkway, now has a designer.
Following a two-stage international competition, Camden Highline — the grassroots charity working to make the floating park a reality — has chosen James Corner Field Operations to spearhead it. This is the design practice that New York City’s own High Line to fruition, transforming a stretch of the New York Central Railroad into one of Manhattan’s most popular visitor attractions. If you haven’t seen it before, here’s a quick glimpse:
As the practice gets to work conjuring up a similar linear park on this side of the Atlantic, they will consult with the local community in order to, per the press release, “create an inclusive design plan”.
This stage could prove crucial to the future of the project; the New York High Line, it has been argued, became a catalyst for rapid gentrification in the area, and care must be taken to ensure the needs of the local community are prioritised when designing the Camden Highline.
That said, the Camden Highline could massively aid the capital’s COVID recovery. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called it “exactly the sort of innovative, environmentally sustainable and locally-driven project which could make an important contribution to London’s recovery from the pandemic”.
Beyond that, the project promises to increase local access to green space and provide opportunities for creative programming. The High Line would also connect neighbourhoods, linking Camden Town to King’s Cross via a ribbon of greenery, and freeing up space on Regent’s Canal towpath.
The competition winners have brought together a crack team of specialists, including Kentish Town-based vPPR Architects, London artist Hew Locke, community consultation organisation Street Space and Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.