A disused viaduct which once carried railway tracks could become an elevated park in Hammersmith.
A public competition is being staged to generate ideas for the Hammersmith Highline – a section of viaduct roughly 200m long. It’s a tenth the length of New York City’s popular High Line, a one-and-a-half-mile linear park created on an old raised railroad spur.
You don’t have to be an architect to enter. Even fanciful ideas are being invited, with a special prize for primary schoolchildren who let their imaginations soar.
Parallel to King Street
Sandwiched between existing elevated railway lines, and running parallel to King Street, the space has challenging access issues... but nothing that can’t be overcome.
Would-be entrants will get a chance to look round the Hammersmith Highline for themselves on Wednesday 17 April, when a site visit is being organised.
Cllr Wesley Harcourt welcomed news of the competition. The H&F Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “This is a great opportunity to involve the community in creating something really worthwhile for the area – an attraction which would draw people to Hammersmith, an amenity for residents and another contribution towards improving biodiversity and air quality in the borough.”
The new scheme would add to a suite of improvements designed to improve air quality in Hammersmith town centre, while also helping improve local biodiversity. Completed projects as part of the scheme to create a ‘low emission neighbourhood’ include new parklets in Hammersmith Grove, a grass verge in Talgarth Road, greenery under the Flyover and more electric vehicle charging points.
Architects on board
The idea of a new public space in W6 has also appealed to architect Matt Hedges from the Askew Studio in Askew Road, who has been involved in plans for a ‘flyunder’ to replace the crumbling Hammersmith Flyover.
“It was originally part of the Metropolitan Line,” said Matt of the raised site. “It’s a length of around 200m of railway viaduct with nothing above it.”
A route to get to the competition site (including wheelchair access) could be created from the back of Kings Mall shopping centre in King Street. “It’s not beyond the realm of possibility,” said Matt. “With imagination, and – potentially – support from Transport for London, we could generate some fresh ideas.”
Competition entries on display
All competition entries will be displayed at an exhibition in Kings Mall from 22-30 June, with entries also beamed on to a screen in Lyric Square.
The idea for developing the Hammersmith Highline was floated by entrepreneur Nigel Walley of Chimni, the Stamford Brook start-up creating digital ‘dashboards’ of every home.
He suggested a linear park on the unused land, and was encouraged by the positive responses. There are no longer train tracks on the elegantly curved viaduct which once carried tube trains to a station in Hammersmith Grove which disappeared a century ago.
There are two competition categories: original ideas without limits, and interesting schemes which are practical and achievable.
Two £5,000 prizes will be awarded, to encourage both fanciful and deliverable proposals. The Kings Mall shopping centre is sponsoring one prize, Mediadata the other.
The aim is to provide Hammersmith with a special attraction that will draw people to the town centre; something to make W6 stand out from other town centres, and encourage visitors at a time of changing high street use.
Access is a challenge, with active District and Piccadilly line trains running close to the site, so designs which take that into account will be favourably judged.
There are two existing pedestrian bridges over the railway which could connect the shopping centre to the Highline, and to King Street.
The expression of interest phase has now closed and the winners of the competition will be announced on Friday 7 June after judging and adjudication by an independent panel.
There will also be an awards ceremony.
The High Line in New York is one of the city’s best-loved mini parks, with the planted elevated walkway maintained by volunteers, most of whom live in apartments without gardens of their own.
Organisers of the linear park in Manhattan have mentored other similar projects in other parts of the United States, and may be persuaded to lend their knowledge and experience to help turn the Hammersmith project into reality. A similar linear park exists in Paris; the Promenade Plantée.
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