London – The demand for real estate is still high and prices were rising in recent years. Nevertheless, there is still unused space in the center of the British capital. Architectural practice Chetwoods recently released its Well-line proposals for the mothballed six-mile underground ‘Post Office Railway’ from Paddington in the west of London to Whitechapel in the east. The Well-line is one of four winners of an ideas competition initiated by the Royal Academy of Arts to open up London’s underused land potential. If the proposal is followed, the capital’s longest brown field site becomes a new delivery line. Whilst opening up new spaces for a ribbon of parks across the city center, it will be possible to carry parcels to destinations across central London.
According to the architects, city vans and lorries account for 30 percent of London’s pollution. Harmful nitrogen oxide and fine particle matter affect physical and mental health in London. This is also very costly for the National Health Service. Well-line will remove the need for 90 percent of goods vehicle movements around Oxford Street by reopening the ‘Post Office Railway’. In Paddington arrived parcels will be delivered to warehouses built above the tracks by conveyors 60ft beneath the city. The transport takes maximum 20 minutes from Paddington to Whitechapel – a distance of 6 miles. Around 16,000 parcels can be conveyed every hour.
Removing the waste by Well-line makes it possible to reduce the aboveground waste transport
Additionally, it is possible to use Chetwoods’ underground transport system for waste disposals. Allegedly, more than fifty different waste disposers are operating around Oxford Street every day. Removing the waste by Well-line makes it possible to reduce the aboveground waste transport as well. A possible power generation from waste incineration at the end of the line can provide the energy to run the conveyors. Waste can be considered as a renewable resource. In this case, the line would be completely sustainable. Harmful emissions caused by waste incineration are very low with the latest filter technology. It is not very exceptional to place them within cities.
However, if that would not be enough: Because of the subterranean transport line, the aboveground street traffic will be replaced by a linear park. Cheetwoods intends to increase the physical comfort and reduce sickness and stress with plants and water. Furthermore, an innovative technology, developed in the smog of Beijing, will actively filter and clean London’s air at rates of over 30,000 cubic meters per hour. Local bubbles of purified air provide a recreation area for people.
It’s planned to use nature-based metaphors, comparable to epiphytes (plants that grow harmlessly upon another plant and derive moisture and nutrients), for aboveground filtering posts. Epithytes grow in harmony with the host. They are not parasites.
“By creating a selection of permanent green oases across the densest parts of the city the Well-line would bring back a joy which has been lost in the grey of urban design” says Laurie Chetwood. “Critically, nature is not merely a “green wash”, the Well-line re-envisages a new city sustained from below. The line would emerge at street level, delivering goods and services and cleaning the atmosphere.“ he adds.