Sayer Street and The Meadow are two exciting meanwhile public realm schemes for Lendlease at Elephant Park that form part of the wider urban regeneration in Elephant & Castle. The Meadow is a playable and biodiverse linear landscape that links to Sayer Street which is a contemporary reinterpretation of the high street designed in collaboration with Jan Kattein Architects.
Lendlease appointed B|D Landscape Architects, Jan Kattein Architects, engineers HRW and lighting designer Michael Grubb Associates in December 2018 with the unusual challenge to design 1/2 a high street. On a strip of land, only 4m wide and 100m long, the design was to encompass all that represents the social life of some of London’s best loved public spaces. Whilst works on a permanent building are progressing behind a construction hoarding, the project is to complement a carefully curated food and beverage offer that recently opened on the opposite retail parade.
The design for the meanwhile use for Sayer Street Central has stemmed from a desire to create a street that has a unique sense of place and authenticity within the local community and provides opportunity for activation and discovery throughout the day.
The proposal takes the form of a linear folly. Playful canopies alternate with event decking, micro parks, seating nooks and three workspace shacks aimed at creative practitioners. Our interpretation encompasses all that’s pleasurable about walking in the city; providing reason to wonder, a vantage point for watching life go bye and opportunities to meet. The cycles of activities in the city have moulded a series of spaces that transform as they are animated by people, events and with the change of the weather and the seasons. Sunlight hitting coloured, translucent screens tint surfaces and the space lighting concept heightens the experience of the street at dusk and in the evening.
A playful and vibrant ‘jungle’ planting palette, full of tall palms, leafy grasses and winding climbers creates an immersive experience; a green oasis against the urban jungle backdrop. The plant selection was chosen to include a number of hardy palm trees, species specifically chosen after liaising with the palm supplier, and reviewing other tropical planting around Southwark/London Bridge to ensure they could withstand the colder weather.
Sustainability has guided our design decisions. Greening is not just decorative, it is an integral part of the spatial experience of the street. Re-usable scaffolding is the basis for all the superstructure and the three workspace shacks are made off-site and can be disassembled and re-deployed as part of a future meanwhile project or donated to a school or community group when the structure is disassembled to make room for the permanent building in 3 years’ time.
The Meadow is an important pedestrian link which connects Elephant & Castle station to the centre of the mixed-use development. Driven by a desire to provide valuable greenspace, activate the streetscape and increase biodiversity the client – Lendlease – sought to create a temporary park on the plot which would feed in to their wider greening initiative.
The completed scheme is a playful, meanwhile landscape which provides a green oasis and shared sanctuary for people and pollinators within a dense urban environment. Designed to capture the imagination all ages, the space is brought to life through sculpture, natural play and places to rest. Site-felled timber and surplus soil was creatively re-used for natural play trails and tilted landforms. At night, the space is transformed by glowing light installations that mark the entrance to the park.
A life-sized elephant and towering tulips woven from willow strengthens the sense of place and ownership. The botanical flower heads are a nod in acknowledgment to the sites historical use as a Market Garden, whilst the elephant rings true to the area’s namesake.
In the UK, Pollinator populations have been in decline since the 1950’s. As urbanization continues, The Meadow looks to support and encourage our urban pollinator populations. It provides crucial habitat and foraging opportunities through ribbons of wildflower meadow, pollen-rich perennial planting and habitat stations.
To deliver the Meadow B|D worked closely with willow artist Tom Hare, Wildflower Turf, Michael Grubb Studios and the client – Lendlease. The landscape design relied heavily on the re-use of site-won materials. This helped to reduce waste, transportation and contributed to a sustainable design.
Sayer Street and the Meadow deserves to win this award as it provides valuable greenspace for the local community, activates the surrounding streetscape and has increased biodiversity on a constrained urban site. The plot has provided valuable pedestrian and cycle links within the area as well as creating a much-needed respite from the city in a space which would otherwise remain a vacant plot for a number of years.
As well as accommodating a variety of uses throughout the day both Sayer Street jungle and the Meadow transform at night and combat a typical urban issue of safety and wellbeing at night by animating and illuminating the space which draws people to it even in the evening.
The success of a scheme can be measured in the enjoyment of those who use it and B|D and JKA are delighted to have helped deliver a cherished, meanwhile landscape which has been so well received by those using the space.
Designed in close collaboration with Jan Kattein Architects
Project location (Street, City, Country): Elephant Park, London, UK
Design year: 2018 – 2019
Year Built: 2019-2020