The team that lead the New York’s Highline development, turning an old railway line in a public park has won a design competition to do the same along an old railway line in Camden. The design agency, James Corner Field Operations lead the design of the New York original, and will now work with Kentish Town-based vPPR Architects on its Camden baby brother.

(c) James Corner Field Operations

The design jury considered 76 entries and 5 shortlists (including Agence Ter of Paris, Benedetti Architects, Feilden Fowles Architects and We Made That with Hassell) before allocating the successful bid to James Corner Field Operations.

The competition winners have brought together an alliance of applied and creative specialists, including vPPR Architects, London artist Hew Locke, community consultation organisation Street Space and Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, among others.

Camden Highline CEO, Simon Pitkeathley, said: “Every time we reach another milestone, I find myself thinking that I can’t believe we’ve come so far so quickly. Something that started as a bit of a mad idea is now going to be designed by a team of the finest people we could ever have hoped to work with. I cannot wait to see their ideas unfold and be put into practice.”

First stages of the project will now see the winning design team consult with the local community and stakeholders to create a design plan for the new walkway and advance it through the planning process.

The Camden Highline, at three-quarters of a mile long, will be about half the length of the original New York version, aims to create a 10-minute walking pathway from Camden Gardens to Camley Street just to the north of King’s Cross with the elevated line passing over 8 busy roads. The £35 million project is currently expected to open, in phases, from 2024.

The group behind the project is now fundraising to build the Highline.

Camden Highline Site Visit (c) Camden Highline

 

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15 comments
  1. Melvyn says:

    I had hoped that these spare lines would have been reinstated in order to provide greater capacity for freight trains which could have been segregated from Overground trains along this section of route.

    It’s worth noting that the original plans for building a link between HS1 and HS2 would have used north London line tracks but would have only provided a single track connection at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds and if it was successful would have had to be replaced. That’s why link between HS1 and HS2 has still not been included in plans .

    Hopefully a high line will ensure people can’t trespass onto operational railways.

    • “Hopefully a high line will ensure people can’t trespass onto operational railways.”

      I honestly expect that they’ve thought of that!

      I’m not sure any extra double track here would help much as the constraint in the system is Willesden Junction High Level, there is a limit to the number of freight trains that can get onto/off the mainline up to Watford Junction.

      I suspect that why they closed this section of line down after just 20 years (1850-1870), it was never useful to increase capacity.

      If you wanted to do that the Westboune Road junction would be a better use of your cash!

    • Paul says:

      @Brian
      The current Camden Road station – with its 4 platforms – was opened in 1870 – and track from the 2 disused northerly platforms has disused electrification stanchions.

      For these reasons it’s extremely unlikely this track has been out of use since 1870 as you suggest – I think something more like 1970 is much more likely. And save for the tight junction immediately to the West, this is part of a 4 track route that stretches from Dalston, with West-facing connections from HS1 and the ECML at the East of the disused “high line” section. It was even proposed for opening back in the 2000s before budgets were cut and the Camden bridges deemed too expensive to replace.

      Personally I think future railway planners will despair at the occupation of a viable trackbed by a whimsical park, that will inevitably be irreversible.

    • ianvisits says:

      The two disused tracks were effectively closed from 1917 when the two southern tracks were electrified and nearby Maiden Lane station closed. The tracks lingered on a while as steam freight only.

  2. Melvyn says:

    I noticed that the Highline begins near Maiden Lane where there were proposals and indeed passive provision for a new station on North London Line to serve Kings Cross development so perhaps the creation of the Highline might be an opportunity to design in a station and maybe even build it to provide access to the Highline .

    • Indeed, there was a station on Maiden Lane until 1917. I would think that the main problem with remaking it is the need to time goods trains into the Overground timetable. It’s quite tight as it is, another stop could be problematic to get the synchronization right.

      Another issue is that the freight lines here are the outer two of the four so any station would need to have platforms on a island (like Caledonian Road and Barnsbury). The original station was on the north-side tracks.

  3. JP says:

    Piet Oudolf wins it for me. He manages to make prairie grasses look almost naturalised and skillfully colours scrubby landscape until you’d want to walk through it regularly.

    Happily, when the line is needed in the future for Tron’s lightcycles or equivalent, it can all be transplanted elsewhere I imagine.

  4. Dave says:

    Um… from the picture, scenic? Not.

    I’m sure they could do bold things with design. But with a train trundling past every 3 minutes or so… not a place to linger. Thirty five million and the ongoing maintenance/security cost implications? Maybe money better spent else…..

    Whoever provides the money to get it built, will see it become a bit of a white elephant. Because this ain’t New York. Why are cities so desperate for their own HighLine? Are there not already enough places/spaces open or planned that make London; London!

    • Paul says:

      Yes, and London has had a “high line” since the 1980s – the Parkland Walk from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill.

    • tony mansell says:

      I had a bet with myself that no one could find anything bad to say about this idea. I lost the bet.
      That it is not just a pie in the sky idea, but actually happening is the best bit. A bit like the redevelopment of the tow path and that area round Kings X. Its such an unloved area and such a good idea surely only the most myopic, narrow minded hater of change ‘CAVE’ could object. I guess some people mistake an opinion with disagreement.

      If you dont like change, London is not for you.

  5. Dave says:

    Parkland Walk, lovely spot. Walked it a few times, during different seasons, from either end, and that’s from a current Croydonian. But not central enough in London, so it’s never had the financial investment that would help make it more accessible. Although I ‘bet’ a lot of the locals would say “we like it as it is, leave well alone”!

    So my opinion is narrow minded on the HighLine, um…thank you for that insight. But be careful what you ‘bet’ on…

    Still like London, hence the reason I’m on this site. Lived and worked here all my life, it’s forever changing, for good or ill. Oh, and Kings X, it certainly is a place to linger.

  6. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I do like the idea of it. A old former railway line next to the existing railway line that is the North London Line to be turned and redeveloped into a walking pedestrianised highline in Camden, North London. I hope that it does get the approval from Camden Council, the Mayor of London, Department for Transport, Transport for London (London Overground) and Network Rail.

  7. Andy Macgarr says:

    Perhaps the construction of the Highline in Camden will highlight the filthy diesel locomotives used to haul the freight trains along the adjacent Overground line. Watching these pass while awaiting an Overground passenger train suggests they are exempt from any clean air legislation. TfL say it’s not their responsibility and Freightliner or DB never responded to email enquiries on the issue.

  8. Janet Maitland says:

    A much much better idea than the garden bridge over the Thames that cost millions and wasn’t even built ….. At least this space is already there and if it can’t be used for anything functional (I don’t know if it can or not) then lets have something that will be good for people and maybe act as a wild life corridor too, which would be wonderful and is badly needed.

  9. Rob McMullen says:

    I’d heartily support this promising & exciting scheme if and only if its design teams consider wildlife across London too. I see absolutely no mention of including a green corridor for non-human residents too. This is the 21st century, for Christ’s sake. We’ve put roads & concrete over most of the capital. Why can’t this scheme make an inspirational initiative to allow passage for animals we’ve already marginalised for decades? Come on, take a lead!

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