Nature is Under your Feet
Amsterdam Academy of Architecture
Supervisor: Mirjam Koevoet, Ricky Rijkenberg, Paul Achterberg.
Authors: Charlotte van der Woude.
For those living in the city who are searching for nature don’t need to look far. Underneath our cities we can discover hidden landscapes that offer great opportunity for special and vulnerable biotopes.The project ‘Nature is Under your Feet’ focuses on the city of London, where many of the former tributaries of the Thames are now buried beneath the city. These small side rivers were once the starting point for people to settle down, but because of heavy pollution in the industrial era, they have been turned into hidden brick sewage systems. Focussing on one of these sewers, the project aims to find new ways of connecting the city with its subterranean landscape. After turning one of the historical sewers – the Fleet Sewer – into a separated, clean watercourse, a series of six carefully chosen cut-outs have been designed, where day-light and fresh air is allowed to come in. These ‘windows’ not only let people discover the underground landscape of the city, they also provide unique conditions for a fragile nature that can flourish without the disturbance of the hectic urban life on top. From river source to river outlet, the sewer sinks deeper and deeper into the soil, which causes every ‘window’ to have its own specific characteristics and habitat. ‘Nature is Under your Feet’ aims to discover if the hidden structure of the Fleet Sewer could be a chance to create a ‘new nature’. One that cannot survive the harsh city life on top, but which can facilitate a whole new type of habitat: a fragile nature to be discovered under your feet.