Kelsey Lents
Beneath Manhattan lies an existing subterranean urban ecology of waterways and potential spaces for plant life to grow and thrive. gang(GREEN) is an underground park that feeds into this network, spreading green throughout the city from below, erupting at moments to contaminate the grid and infect the island and its infrastructure, thus regaining the balance between nature and architecture.
Underground ecology
Ganggreen GifAnimation showing build up of green over time

Manhattan was once an island of marshland and meadows. In the four hundred years since its settlement, infrastructure has taken hold of the island, choking back nature until its existence was limited to carefully gridded parks. What would happen if we were to let nature loose?

Kelsey Lents 04Rendering of green spread from below Delancey

Simmering just below Manhattan is a complex and interconnected world of waterways, subway tunnels and abandoned spaces. If we were to create a germination point, an underground park of moss, algae and lichen that fed into these networks, we could inject life into Manhattan's underground. Plant life could escape from the park, infect the underground and spread just below the surface.

Kelsey Lents 14gang(GREEN) envisions an underground park that connects to the urban infrastructure

The Delancey Underground, an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal at the intersection between Delancey and Essex, provides an ideal testing ground for Manhattan's future landscape. The East River's runoff has turned the abandoned space into a marsh in waiting, and its connection to the J, M, Z and F subway tunnels and to three sewage tunnels make it a powerful origination point. Imagine subway rides through moss lined tunnels or sidewalk grates through which plants creep from below. There is a latent ecology that has the potential to spread, to take over the undergound and to erupt, interrupting and breaking down the rigidity of the Manhattan grid. If we provide the infrastructure to enable rather than impede Manhattan's greenways, we can invent a new park ecology and typology.

If nature were allowed to fight back, what would be the new Manhattan landscape?

Kelsey Lents 09Initial concept sketch

Kelsey Lents 08Diagrammatic crack in the street

Kelsey Lents 13Process diagram

Kelsey Lents 06Initial germination

Kelsey Lents 07aEventual growth and takeover

Kelsey Lents 10Animated growth

Kelsey Lents 12Moments that can occur include moss wading pools, algae trees and swimming pools, and stair crevices

Kelsey Lents 11The underground becomes covered with green, allowing the creation of new recreational spaces

Kelsey Lents 05Growth along the subway tunnels