The benefits of having access to outside space has been reported to have a wide range of social, economic, environmental and health benefits, especially for those living in inner-city and suburban areas. At Elephant Park, every home has its own outside space be it a balcony, terrace or garden. Residents and the local community can also enjoy one of the many ‘pocket parks’ throughout the development, as well as being able to enjoy the brand-new park Lend Lease is creating at the heart of the development. Wherever you turn, the importance of green space and the outside environment is a central part of Elephant Park’s design, not least for West Grove.
West Grove comprises of a community of suites and apartments; with only a few two- and three-bedroom apartments remaining for sale. Set around two unique landscaped courtyards. Lendlease recognises the importance of healthy living and making the most of all outdoor space, meaning courtyards are a focal part of the West Grove design. So, as well as giving residents a choice on what style of home they prefer, and what sort of interior palette to opt for, West Grove also offers the choice between two different landscaped courtyards.
With the power to harness the potential of the outdoors and nature, we asked Oliver Duguid, Senior Landscape Architect at Lendlease-appointed landscape architects Gillespies, to tell us more about how the outside space at West Grove has been designed.
Where did the design concept come from and how does it relate to the history of the area?
“The outside space for West Grove has been designed around two distinct concepts – both intended to create urban oases for residents to enjoy and both of which relate to the different character of each neighbourhood, giving it an individual identity that stands out from the wider Elephant Park streets and landscapes.
“Highwood Gardens is based on a forest and glade concept, reflecting the character of the Walworth Woods and the dense coverage of London Plane trees that were there previously, many of which have been retained along Walworth Road.
“Orchard Gardens takes its inspiration from the organic, curved lines of the bark of the London plane tree, which provides a contrast to the strong, ordered form of the architecture. The way in which the spaces are arranged is an expression of the architectural language and the landscape that historically characterised the site. The combination of design features, including a large open space partially covered with an orchard with grassed areas and informal paths leading to areas of planting, will suggest the feeling of a continental square. Finally, the name Orchard Gardens and the orchard concept itself, is drawn from historic photos of the area that we uncovered in our research and which we think is a beautiful expression of the site’s natural history.”
How do you make sure that the landscapes you create are spaces people want to use?
“Our focus for West Grove was on creating something playful and organic that really responded to what residents would enjoy about each of the spaces – that means designing places where people can relax, get together and be closer to nature. For example, the courtyard in Highwood Gardens flows seamlessly into a garden terrace, leading to gym facilities and a residents’ room that enable people to exercise, relax and entertain friends and family. We also designed in a series of grow gardens, which will allow residents not only to get close to nature by planting and nurturing a wide range of vegetables and herbs, but also to socialise with one another.
“At Orchard Gardens, the central space features a generous deck and lawn where people can come together to sit, play or host informal community events.”
Tell us more about the sensory elements of the design at Highwood Gardens…
“The clearings in the woodland capture sunlight to provide a variety of spaces such as the playful south-facing grass mini-amphitheatre. Each transition between these glades creates a sense of revealing as you move between the spaces. Natural wave formations within the landscape encourage play, while the shaded, smaller spaces offer a degree of privacy. The sculpted shape of the sunken amphitheatre creates a blank canvas for gatherings. Timber seats provide comfort and warmth, while woodland stepping-stones spark imagination and inspire creative play.
“Colour and materials have been carefully chosen to enhance the space and we have used a palette of architectural and paving materials which beautifully complements the rich greens and textures of the planting. The bark, seasonal colour and flowers of the tree species – which might include Maple, Silver birch and Witch hazel – add richness and depth.”
How did you use shape and space to maximise the design of Orchard Gardens?
“Orchard Gardens resonates with the geometric form of the surrounding architecture in the shape of its courtyard spaces. The way in which the spaces are arranged is an expression of the architectural language and the landscape that historically characterised the site. The central space features a generous deck and lawn where people can sit, play or host informal community events. The large, open space allows you to explore a little bit more.”
As Carlo Laurenzi, Chief Exec of the London Wildlife Trust put it; “what makes Elephant Park really stand out is that it sets out to enhance nature, not just to be mindful of it. As a result, residents will be completely immersed in nature on all levels – from their residence; from a distance, when looking towards home; and when walking through the myriad little parks and squares across the scheme.”
Creating a green heart within the centre of London, Elephant Park is a natural enhancement to the beauty of nature already existing around us.