vPPR Architects is working together with leading NYC-based landscape firm James Corner Field Operations to transform a disused railway viaduct between Camden Town and King’s Cross into the Camden Highline, a new garden walk for London.
“The design team have surpassed our already high expectations and there is no doubt that the Camden Highline will be a beautiful park in the sky.”
Simon Pitkeathley, Client & Chief Executive Camden Town Unlimited
The Camden Highline is a proposed public park and garden walk, which will reimagine a 1.2km section of elevated and disused railway viaduct between Camden Town and King’s Cross as new green infrastructure: an ecological corridor and landmark walking route for post-pandemic community activity in London.
In collaboration with James Corner Field Operations and a broad range of supporting consultants, the Camden Highline has been developed as a community connector, threading through many underserved and disconnected neighbourhoods to provide a freely accessible, direct and safe public walking link, distinctive of Camden’s character and diversity.
Camden Highline Route Aerial View
Running 6-8m above street level, the Camden Highline will provide a new biodiverse landscape, planted by famous garden designer, Piet Oudolf in collaboration with the London Wildlife Trust. In addition it will support arts and cultural activities, including an art piece by Hew Locke, among others. Garden allotments, play and education spaces will ensure that there is something to serve every member of Camden’s community.
Tracing the impact of the former North London Railway Line that occupied the now disused viaduct that once linked Kew Gardens to the East India Docks by way of Islington pastures and Mr. Loddige’s citrus glasshouses in Hackney, it is not just the Highline that benefits from ‘greening.’ The aim is to use the Highline as a green spine to promote Camden’s ‘Green Loop’: a network of trees and green walkways that connects Regents Park, Euston, Kings Cross and the canal.
Camden Highline Collage
Each of the entrances to the Highline links to a major north-south route between the centre of London and the northern edges and winds up through historic infrastructure to the gardens above. Strong and recognisable identities are created at each access point, drawing attention to the elevated park above. The entrances are informed by the context, using a bright pink colour as a public way-finding concept, lending a clear identity to the project.
As dramatic, civic experiences in themselves, the entrances serve as a transition from the busy streets of Camden to the slow and peaceful park above where visitors are presented with the unique experience of being level with the train engines that grind above the streets and over decaying bridges. Focusing on the experience of the users, the journey through the infrastructure up to the Highline is led by the notion of discovery and the desire to experience elements of the townscape through views and proximities that would not normally be possible to achieve. Our approach to the entrances is to treat the existing structures as fragments of urban ruins, which the stairs and lifts allow us to perceive and discover from new angles and perspectives, without cleaning or repairing them to make them look like new.
The design philosophy of the Camden Highline has embraced the circular economy from the start of the design process and focuses on repurposing existing structure and minimising demolition where any design intervention is conceived as a reusable kit of parts which can be mechanically disassembled either to adapt to changing needs within the park or to be reused elsewhere. The retention of the character and past traces of the Highline’s past is irreplaceable, enforcing our decision to retain its memories of graffiti and decay.
Route Map Axonometric of Camden Highline
Click video caption to view the full renders by G.A Group London/Paul Denton of Camden Highline in Camden Gardens.