Fletcher Priest won the Landscape Institute's green infrastructure ideas competition for London on Monday with a proposal that was more brown than green. Rather than looking at ways to green the ground level, or even to work above ground, it chose to tackle the disused mail tunnels below Oxford Street and turn them into a linear mushroom farm.
It is a fantastically ingenious proposal, a new take on the concept of 'multi-layered landscape' and an eye-opener for those who thought that they new what green infrastructure was all about
In fact, the whole event could be seen as an eye-opener. It was a green infrastructure day held at the Garden Museum and piggy-backed on a weekend celebrating that new but already iconic piece of green infrastructure, the High Line in New York.
The designers were there on the Monday (and helped judged the competition) and talked inspirationally, not least about their can-do approach to fundraising. Equally impressive were talks from a major developer and from the teams behind the Nine Elms development and the American Embassy that will form the centrepiece. All are embracing green infrastructure because it makes sense financially, environmentally, and in planning terms. Mushrooms tunnels, while exciting, would be largely hidden. But green infrastructure it seems is set to rapidly become more visible.