Wild West End Garden- Healthy Streets Award
Designed by Kate Gould, a Chelsea flower show veteran, the garden’s plant life was specifically picked for their substantial air quality contribution. It was born from the Wild West End, a coalition of property owners, such as Baker Street Quarter Partnership and London Wildlife Trust, with the vision to generate more green space in urban area. As of today, they have covered over 6,500 meters of space with green roofs, complete with beehives, bird habitats and bat boxes.
We were delighted to be appointed the position of Principle Designer for the innovative Wild West End Garden, found at Old Quebec Street in Marylebone. We undertook project management, the detailed design of the pergola, hanging eave, supporting structure, the layout of the garden and an accessibility audit to guarantee equal access to everyone. The project itself entailed traffic and pedestrian surveys to find the most optimal position for the garden, on top of the aforementioned design. We worked closely with NWEC, who are part of the Wild West End coalition, to work towards an optimum design.
The vison of Wild West End was simple. Develop urban green infrastructure to greater improve air quality, connections with nature and encourage more wildlife to return. More specifically, the gardens aim was to regenerate Old Quebec Street and improve the visitor experience for the 142 million people that utilize Oxford street per annum. Additional tasks included combating air pollution as London is cited regularly as one of Europe’s poorest air quality cities. Based upon the MillionTressNYC project, where over 1 million trees were planted, 2,200 tonnes of pollution from the air per year, this seemed like an achievable goal. Likewise, promoting a more peaceful and pleasing feature to an urbanized environment. To this end, we were tasked with designing the layout of the garden as well as preforming traffic and pedestrian surveys to determine the best area in which it should be situated.
The project had little in the way of issues, both in its conceptual and delivery stages. However, due to the scale of such an ambitious scheme, the design presented difficulties. For example, ease of all potential users of the garden had to be considered. To maintain a comprehensive and consistent level of accessibility, an appropriately named accessibility audit was carried out. This served to ensure issues of this nature were identified and addressed. These findings were used appropriately, eliminating risk of unequal interaction.
The nature of this project demanded a profound understanding of the needs of the millions of people who would encounter the garden every year and the ecological requirements needed to successfully achieve all of the gardens goals. Therefore, the main lesson learnt was how to employ a succinct method of assessing the complex issues and considerations a project like this generates. The development of such a skill will help support us in further work.
Since it’s opening, the response from the public has been extremely positive. Of particular note was the consistent acclaim the aesthetics of the design received. Equally so, was the location itself. Since the road has been closed to transport, the area has become much less influenced by pollution and traffic, to extensive local approval.