Underground gardens in NY

The Lowline Park is NY urban jungle, it uses a distributor dish to transmit sunlight into the space and enables plants and trees to grow.

The Lowline park is an underground urban jungle in Manhattan's Lower East side. The concept raised funds on Kickstarter and its testing with the Lowline Lab.

Founders Dan Barasch and James Ramsay received input from over 50 scientists to figure out the way to make their dreams come true. The park is a socially beneficial space in a neighborhood at a crossroads.

They've used solar energy to cultivate their dream. "All architectural design is one big game to optimize light," said Barasch. The environment they're creating in the lab is unique in North America and its a football field sized landscape.

To grow plants underground and attract people on going to this park the Lowline Park relies on filtering sunlight. It uses two solar collectors, one stand-alone and one hooked up to  large mirror. both in the roof of the building.

The mirror is a Heliostat, and it tips up and down to reflect sunlight into the collector, which is a satellite dish shaped device with a condenser in the middle. According to the Lowline Park website, this is how it works:

"Sunlight passes through a glass shield above the parabolic collector, and is reflected and gathered at one focal point, and directed underground. Sunlight is transmitted onto a reflective surface on the distributor dish underground, transmitting that sunlight into the space."

The technology allows photosynthesis to happen thus plants and trees can grow. It has been a great success, as the full spectrum of light is retained and delivered to the plants. All sunlight is funneled through a clear pink glowing tube during the day. The brightness and intensity of the light collected can be up to 30 times that of the sun and it doesn't get too hot as the biggest heat generating light wavelengths are filtered out.  

John Mini's landscape firm was in charge of the plants. Their biggest challenge was creating a landscape in which plants could survive underground until March 2017, for the duration of the lab. Impressing people was also a main goal, showing them the most unexpected environment possible underground.

They decided to create a space with three different footprints of light after calculating the amount, type and frequencies of light that would come into the space and working with landscape architect Signe Nielsen. The ceiling can change its shape to suit those footprints and  a map of those plants with best chances of surviving.

The result is a mix of plants similar to a tropical canopy, with plants who were never meant to be together creating different microclimates. More so, the temperature is warm, plants are lush and vibrant. Humidity can be smelled in the air and people can sit on hilly embankments and smell the flowers.

But this is just the lab. The Lowline park landscape will be determined by the community. Each visitor is asked what they want and 50,000 visitors have go in the last 6 months. They will determine the final plants, lighting and layout of the park.

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