Project team:

Client: Argent

Architects: Bell Phillips Architects

Landscape architects: Dan Pearson Studio (Planting), Townshend Landscape Architects

Lighting design: Speirs + Major – Mark Major, Philip Rose, Andrew Howis

Engineering: Arup + Hoare Lea

Lighting control: Control Lighting

Major suppliers: Photonstar, We-ef, Mike Stoane Lighting and Control Lighting

Products applied:

Uplights to canopy: 1 watt cool white LED, narrow beam, Photonstar

Uplights to historic Gasholder: cool white 24 watt LED narrow beam, We-ef

Handrail lighting: warm white 18 watt linear LED luminaires, Mike Stoane Lighting

25. Oct 2017

A solar eclipse for a park, and a park for a residential quarter – in London/GB.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag, Joachim Ritter
Photos: Speirs + Major, James Newton, Bell Phillips Architects

In the urban realm, urban development tends to focus increasingly more on buildings rather than green areas and parks. Even the tiniest of spaces are used to build extensions onto existing properties, or erect new buildings instead of integrating a park into a residential or commercial area of a city as a contrast and a guarantee for more quality of life. But do all such green opportunities fall victim to being turned into building sites? The answer is no. Committed architects and urban planners worldwide have joined forces to make a clear stand against boundless building development. What has evolved from this movement are what are referred to as “public pocket parks”, small green spaces that make attractive landscaped areas out of the few urban blind spots available – for people to meet in, stage events, or simply enjoy a breath of “fresh” air.

It is a tricky situation: inner urban areas are valuable, because they are so few and far between. Given the need for closely built-up areas to cater for the growing urban population, any free space in town centres becomes far more lucrative for municipalities, private owners or landlords than a park. At the same time, inhabitants are crying out for attractive, recreational spaces between all the buildings. It would appear that such spaces are more likely to arise if they are not part of the plan for new stopgap buildings, but to mark the revitalisation of a specific quarter. Green is an investment in the future. In our densely built-up cities, green facades – or living walls as they are sometimes referred to – are a popular consideration. And roofs of high-rise buildings and even former railway lines – above or below ground – are known to have been transformed into thriving parklands. But the right lighting is required. Flourishing landscapes do not simply need to be lit, they need purposefully designed lighting.

In the London Borough of Camden, to the north west of the city centre, a project of this kind has been realised. It is an integral part of a wider redevelopment project around King’s Cross Station, which actually began a few years ago. The comprehensive revitalisation of the area around this key hub includes a new residential quarter to the north of the station, which has arisen in what was formerly a partially abandoned post-industrial district. The original plan was to create dense concentrations of high-rise buildings, of course. But one of the old industrial plants turned out to be a large iconic gasholder. When buildings started to grow around it and encircle the circular landmark the committed architects’ and urban planners’ movement stepped in …

The concept put forward by the architects responsible did not consider demolition as an option, but rather envisaged preserving the gasholder and converting it for a different use. Historic Gasholder No. 8 became the core element of a public pocket park and event space in a residential quarter that was to be designed by landscape architects. The experienced team of designers from Speirs + Major were commissioned to design the lighting for the gasholder.

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 107 as well as in our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store).


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