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.
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.
The mix of herbaceous planting is mainly evergreen to ensure year-round coverage of the scheme with perennials such as Rudbeckia and Persicaria to add shots of seasonal colour. Climbers within the scheme were to be self-clinging/twining species to climb the scaffold structure and green it over time; the approach to Sayer Street as a whole was that it would not be a static installation but that it could grow and change over the next 5 years.
Colour was highlighted from the start that could be used to link to the wider area. This has been realised in the street furniture selection, scaffolding, and maker space design – creating a strong visual connection to the recently completed Pollinator Park – a gateway to Sayer Street Central.
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 areas 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. The planting strategy looked to support a wide range of pollinating insects by; providing as much nectar as possible over the longest possible period; incorporating a mix of flower forms; and comprising mostly blue, pink, white and purple coloured flowers.
Landscape Architecture: B|D Landscape Architects
To deliver the Meadow B|D worked closely with willow artist Tom Hare, Wildflower Turf, Michael Grubb Studios and the client – Lendlease
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (architects and landscape architects):
Engineers: Engineers HRW
Lighting Designer: Michael Grubb Studio
Architect: Jan Kattein Architects
Public Artist: Tom Hare
Project location (Street, City, Country): Elephant Park, London, UK
Design year: 2018 – 2019
Year Built: 2019-2020