The Meadow is a playable landscape that links to Sayer Street, a contemporary reinterpretation of a modern high street. The result is a playful linear folly offering creative places to meet, work and browse in a biodiverse landscape.
Who is the developer/client of the project?
Describe the context of this project and its contribution to the urban life and user experience of the place.
Sayer Street and The Meadow are two exciting meanwhile public realm lighting schemes for Lendlease at Elephant Park that form part of the wider urban regeneration in Elephant & Castle. The Meadow is a playable and biodiverse landscape that links to Sayer Street, which is a contemporary reinterpretation of the modern high street. It is a temporary urban structure comprising a playful linear folly in a bio-diverse landscape.
Lendlease appointed Jan Kattein Architects, B|D Landscape Architects and lighting designer Michael Grubb Studio 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. 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.
Slender canopies alternate with event decking, micro parks, seating nooks and creative workspace shacks, provide reason to wonder and browse, a vantage point for watching life go by and opportunities for people to meet. The cycle of activities in the city have inspired a series of spaces which transform as spaces are animated by people and events, the change of the weather, and the seasons. Sunlight hitting, translucent screens tint surfaces and the space lighting concept heightens the experience of the street at dusk and in the evening. The lighting was designed to help activate the area and create calm, inviting spaces which are also safe and attract activity day and night.
How has this project, event or installation enlivened the place in a creative way?
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. Key themes identified at project inception included art, play, market and music, with an over-arching theme of permeating green infrastructure into the scheme.
A playful and vibrant ‘jungle’ planting palette, full of tall palms, leafy grasses and winding climbers create an immersive experience, a green oasis against the urban jungle backdrop. The vibrant colours in Elephant Park and the orange building in Walworth Square were used as inspiration to create colourful landscape connecting these two spaces. 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 lighting makes a huge impact at night and creates a buzz with eateries that provide relaxing, open-air spaces to allow for social distancing.
The Meadow is an important pedestrian link which connects Elephant & Castle station to the centre of the mixed-use development. Designed to capture the imagination all ages, the space is brought to life through sculpture, natural play and places to rest. At night, the space is transformed by glowing light installations that mark the entrance to the park.
What do you see as the greatest success of this project?
The success of the activation can be summarised into three key areas:
In today’s technology driven society the success of a scheme can be measured in part by the social media presence and The Living Room at Sayer Street and the Meadow are no exception. There are numerous tags of the scheme by all ages and demographics; celebrating the vibrancy, uniqueness and biodiversity of the urban landscape.
One of the design ambitions was to create an ’instagrammable’ landscape which was fun and highly engaging. We have been thrilled to see photos of the park popping up on instagram under hashtags such as #ElephantParkLondon and #Elephantandcastle and seeing people respond to the space in ways beyond our imagination.
On a recent bank holiday visit Sayer Street was bustling with activity, from children playing in the street, to the food and beverage offer and groups of friends animating both sides of the street. Even in overcast weather Sayer Street and the Meadow are a draw to the area, a destination point, which is what we had hoped to achieve.
Please share any data or figures that support your entry, for example increased footfall, happiness surveys, event attendance and/or observed changes in behaviour. Did it make a positive economic, social and environmental contribution? You may also attach any news clippings, testimonials, or additional images or documents to support your entry.
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 when the structure is disassembled to make room for the permanent building in 3 years’ time.
The Meadow is located on a plot marked for development off Walworth Road which links through to Sayer Street. Driven by a desire to provide valuable greenspace for the local community, activate the surrounding streetscape and to increase biodiversity, the client Lendlease sought to create a temporary park on the plot which would feed into their wider greening initiative in Elephant & Castle.
Greening 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.
The history of the site was also important in shaping our aspirations for the site in the present day. The Walworth area was once famous for its market gardens and B|D were inspired to create a landscape which focused on flowers, biodiversity and bringing joy to people by surrounding them with nature.
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.