A unique recycled landscape where people, nature and history are brought together in symbiotic design.
Once the centre for ground-breaking research into road safety, we worked across 250 acres to transform Buckler’s Forest in Crowthorne into a re-naturalised community where both people and wildlife could thrive. But the design stayed true to the site’s roots, incorporating elements of its modern history – such as the old vehicle test tracks – as well as far more ancient heritage, like the historic forest rides dating back to when the area was part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Windsor, and even traces of much earlier Bronze-Age activity.
Buckler’s Forest sits immediately adjacent to the Thames Basin Heath SPA and, as part of the development, 100 acres of SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) has been created between the SPA and the residential development in order to protect the area’s fragile biodiversity. This scheme creates an interconnected network of trails and cycle routes through the forest, all opened up for free public access.
The restoration from test track to forest allows wildlife to reclaim the site, creating a mosaic of semi- natural habitats such as the new network of streams and ponds that form an integral part of the development’s extensive sustainable drainage system.
All around the forest, historical details have been reclaimed and restored to become thoughtful new features. What was a man-made hill designed for testing handbrakes is now a quiet picnic spot nestled on the forest’s edge. A banked curve where high-speed vehicles once soared has become a stepped amphitheatre with stunning views. Old green electrical boxes, retained from the era of a transport laboratory, are now home to mini-museums, insect habitats and shelters. And the old forest fire watch tower still stands as a tribute to the past – looking out over a rejuvenated landscape where both visitors and wildlife can now find tranquillity.
Landscape Architecture: Macgregor Smith
Location: Crowthorne, Berkshire
Client: Legal and General Homes & Communities
Project Manager: Allen Dadswell Construction Consultants
Architect: Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design
Engineer: Peter Brett Associates
Contractors: Civil – Breheny Civil Engineering / Landscape – Gavin Jones
Ecologist: Ecology Solutions
Photographers: Paul Upward Photography / Drone Images – DDL Photography