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Underground Green Space

December 14, 2009

After reading the Triple Canopy interview, I stumbled across this China Daily article from 2007 about an underground park in Shanghai. Shu Yu is behind construction of the world’s first subterranean green space.  Article reads:

We need to make the bodily experience of being underground not feel like you’re underground. We should change the composition of the underground environment—the space’s lighting, shadows, colors, materials, shape, and texture—so that it matches what people are used to above ground. We should change the quality and flow of air. We are also thinking of ways to introduce key elements of the natural environment underground, such as sunlight, green plants, flowing water, and small animals. If we can’t do that, we can at least project images of surface life onto the walls underground.

Shouldn’t we leave natural, green spaces aboveground and put the “less ornamental” elements of society, as HG Wells put it, underground? Something very backwards here. The tone of the article might be most unnerving. The announcements of the first indoor beaches and ski hills came with a “look what we can do!” pride. But here it’s “green areas have generally been ignored…” In other words, “it’s about time we had an underground park.” Imagine a few generations down the road, when children don’t know what it means to play “outside.”


This brings to mind a link recently passed on to me by Loretta Hall, author of Underground Buildings: More than Meets the Eye (2003)Sensory Scapes is a company that sells “windows” that you hang on your wall, offering a simulated view of nature. Their slogan: “bringing the benefits of nature indoors.”

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