The London Underline, London, United Kingdom
Gensler

London is brimming with its highest population in history, growing at a rate over 2,000 residents a week. Its 152 year old tube is overcrowded. Its Victorian streets congested with pedestrians, cyclists, cars, lorries and buses are at capacity. The city is under pressure to deliver creative, cost-effective solutions to keep Londoners moving. 
 
What if municipalities could create carbon-neutral transport links by harnessing the untapped potential beneath its vast urban landscape? The London Underline is a visionary solution which does just that. Envisaged by Gensler’s London office, in partnership with Pavegen and Momentum Transport Planning, The Underline is a proposal to regenerate disused Tube tunnels to create the world’s first self-sustaining subterranean transport infrastructure that is safe, clean and inviting, while embracing London’s growing urban curiosity.  
 
How does this work? Over a mile of existing links are repurposed, unveiling an underground network linked to the current transport system. Parts of the underground that are no longer utilised will be brought back to life with dynamic new cycle highways and pedestrian paths – while pop up retail, street performers and art installations bring London’s vibrant culture to these forgotten infrastructures.  Existing tube junctions, platforms and air shafts along the line will provide the essential support needed to make this a truly viable solution. 
 
The proposed links - a culturally dense square mile between Green Park, Holborn and Old Aldwych, running underneath the West End, Soho and Covent Garden are filled with hundreds of pubs, theatres, cultural institutions, businesses, museums and universities; a tourist hot-spot. With an estimated capacity of 112,000 cyclists and pedestrians a day, the London Underline not only provides a release valve to a city bursting at its seems, but also makes the commuters’ journey on those rainy London days dry, clean and most importantly, safe.  
 
Through crowd-sourcing kinetic energy from the Underline’s users’ footsteps, a whole new urban space has the potential to be unlocked underneath the city, with enough untapped energy to power the regeneration of the Underline with lighting, digital screens, and more. A forgotten past can be brought back to life as a dynamic new multifunctional urban transportation network, lined with shops, cafes and click-and-collect points.
 
And this is just the first phase of what could potentially be a city-wide network. Several other links have been identified across different boroughs that could feed into the current transport network with miles of disused Tube lines regenerated into different branches of Underlines.  
 
As London invented modern subway transportation, the city could lead the world once again merging engineering, technology, design and innovation to create a better, carbon-neutral future. This self-sustaining approach to reuse and recapitalise infrastructure investment from a century ago could transform the way cities such as Paris, Chicago and others approach their own disused subterranean spaces. 
 
London holds the key. The question is no longer ‘is this possible’ but, ‘when’?

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