#underground jungles

Need to buy some of these



Imagine an underground jungle, a british woodland floor, or meadow, or field of phosphorescent fungus seen fleetingly through the windows of a train as it passes a disused station transformed. Seen so quickly you’re not sure if you saw it or not but the natural world has just entered your subterranean journey.

I want to bring segments of natural habitats into our urban underground environments and networks, into everyday lives. Yes, there are parks, canals and gardens in our urban spaces but you have to make a conscious decision to go to them, make time to see them. I want to create a site specific piece of work, or series, that go towards infiltrating natural habitats into urban daily routines. These moments will be fleeting, these pockets of life will inhabit disused station platforms, they will be lit to provide the necessary energy for the plants but also lit for the viewers as they fly past. These pieces will only be seen for a moment but a moment is long enough for the mind to register something, an organic and colourful vision jumping out from the tunnel’s darkness. At stations there would also be video links to these platforms so travellers could take time to look at what they have just seen, take a moment to absorb the living environment that they have just passed. Ideally these video links would be shown on screens that cover entire walls or make use of the moving image advertisement boards you see on some underground stations. Different natural habitats could be recreated; otherworldly jungles maybe with the sounds of a forest played through the train’s loudspeakers as the platform is passed, in spring bluebell carpets landscaped across the platform, phosphorescent fungus could inhabit all surfaces of the station, the shape of the space only being visible as they glow. Underwater habitats could also be recreated, ponds, lakes, rivers, coral reefs. There are also disused stairwells and ventilation shafts that could become home to palm trees, the tops of them at street level looking like shrubs while their trunks disappear deep below the pavement to a growing world below.

The underground is obviously a fairly polluted place and that would have to be taken into account concerning plant species. A lot of plants are very effective at absorbing pollution which in turn could mean that these installations help to improve the air quality below the ground. Suitably deep beds would be built using recycled materials, old railway sleepers both ideal and relevant. The soil level would match the bottom of the carriage windows taking the traveller through the environment at an unusual viewpoint, one unique to the underground and different to the view afforded by walking through natural environments or looking down from a national rail train. Soil is also full of pollutant absorbing microscopic plants that can also degrade toxic chemicals further improving the immediate environment. Watering and drainage systems would be integrated into the design along with ventilation and any other specific requirements. The underwater environments would be held in giant tanks again with the pond or river bed at eye level offering the traveller a unique viewpoint., the lighting changing throughout the day. At the end of the project the plants could be auctioned off or donated to more permanent locations above ground where they would further improve the urban environment. Artificial lighting that recreates the spectrum of light emitted by the sun would provide the plants with everything they need and also provide a further opportunity to enhance the visual aspect of this proposal with additional coloured lighting. The wind produced by passing trains would be reduced by building transparent walls at the platform edge therefore protecting the plants from damage. Occasional train carriages could also be filled with plants and lights so travellers on the platforms also have their daily lives infiltrated by the natural world. The more disused stations that could be planted the better. I like the idea that it is not publicised initially, travellers unsure as to whether what they saw, or thought they saw was real and allowing word to spread, to grow. Video projections would then start entering stations, forest soundscapes played on trains and the jungle would grow. The phosphorescent fungus environment would ideally be seen from darkened carriages, an ethereal and alien environment.

We can only exist in these urban environments because of vast, yet threatened, forests existing elsewhere on the planet absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, the natural world, the countryside is not a thing for us urban dwellers to go to, to visit, it is an integral part of our daily lives whether we realise it or not and that idea is at the core of this proposal. We are part of the natural world, intrinsically connected to it but this fact is easily forgotten in the urban jungles of this green and pleasant land. This project has the potential to enter thousands of people’s lives, for many they will not have to make a conscious effort to go and “see it” it will temporarily become visible in their daily lives, of course the content of the project already exists outside of these very urban spaces but for many they don’t see it regularly, it is a reminder, a reconnection between two environments, it is important and I would love to work with you to realise this idea. Thank you.


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