An abandoned former trolley stop in the Lower East Side of New York City will be converted into a one-acre park using solar technology for its illumination in the much-anticipated Lowline project. The underground station has been vacant for the past 80 years but, after the project received an official approval last week, it is expected to become the world’s first underground public park; a subterranean counterpart to the city’s famous High Line Park.

The technology that will sustain the underground park was designed by James Ramsey, the owner of design firm Raad Studio, and it will implement what he calls a “remote skylight.”

“In this approach, sunlight passes through a glass shield above the parabolic collector, and is reflected and gathered at one focal point, and directed underground,” the Lowline website says. “Sunlight is transmitted onto a reflective surface on the distributor dish underground, transmitting that sunlight into the space.”

The park will open in 5 years - Lowline

The park will open in 5 years – Lowline

The remote skylight technology will transmit needed wavelengths to aid with the photosynthesis process and support the growth of trees and plants. During periods of sunlight, electricity will not be necessary to light the space, the official website explains.

In February 2012, a crowdfunding campaign for the Lowline was launched on Kickstarter. The project collected over 7% of their goal during the first week and before the second week was over it collected USD $155,186.

The Lowline team installed “a functioning full-scale model of the solar technology and accompanying green park in an abandoned warehouse directly above the actual site” in September 2012. “The exhibit was attended by over 11,000 visitors in just two weeks, serving as proof of concept for the ambitious project,” the Lowline team says.

While the world’s first underground park is slated to open its doors to the public by 2021, there have been a slew of ingenious projects around the world that similarly reuse abandoned or underutilized infrastructure.

*Never miss a story like this - subscribe to our weekly highlights and stay up-to-date