City Park is set in the heart of Bradford next to City Hall and the main shopping streets. It is encircled by the city’s bus and train stations, the Victorian centre of Bradford, the National Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre and the university.

The site was a complex city centre space severed by major bus routes and highway infrastructure and a long way from being a public park.

City Park has remodelled previously incoherent spaces. At the heart of the park is a 76m by 58m shallow pool with 100 fountains, mist and geysers. As the day unfolds the water rises and falls revealing causeways, allowing people to walk through the pool. The water can drain fully to providing a dry plaza for events and 10,000 people.

Traffic models and study visits eventually convinced the team that we could remove two vehicle lanes from the surrounding ring road. This allowed the creation wide, single phase pedestrian and cycle crossing stitching the city centre together again with the university, Media Museum and residential areas to the west.

The project has achieved what Bradford wanted, an authentic place loved by the public that has changed perceptions and has brought economic success.

Extensive consultation, schools events and discussions with accessibility groups all helped to win over initial public scepticism. A recent study by Bradford and York University looking at City Park, social inclusion and moral urbanism  recorded a transformation in public opinion and a groundswell of affection for City Park since it opened. The presence of the full time warden and the careful maintenance all help people see Bradford’s commitment to the space.

Materials have been selected for durability and water use minimised. Each night the water drains into the pavilion basement to be treated and re-used while the pool plaza is swept and cleaned. A 230m deep borehole tops up the water supply. Surveys show 223,000 additional people visited the city centre in 9 months, and bringing people back into the city has been the park’s greatest achievement.

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