The Entec landscape design team approached the project by embracing the concept of ‘softer landscapes through sustainable design’. The design seeks to integrate challenging new sustainable design treatments, while attempting to re-define how commercial public realm spaces are perceived. The scheme re-defines two spaces enveloping four office buildings, and provides a positive link to the nearby St. Katherine’s Dock.

The largest open space introduces a series of raised, rolling lawns retained by timber and gabion cages filled with the granite setts, marble and concrete slabs excavated from site. The integration of a new type of paving block announces the entry spaces and provides movement and legibility throughout the spaces by a directional band which includes ground LED lights.

The secondary space, which inhabits a shadier position, integrates a grid pattern of raised gabion planters, again filled with re-used site materials, and topped with sustainably sourced oak timber seaters. Black steel climber posts add a vertical emphasis. Honeysuckle and ornamental grasses add movement, texture and seasonal, scented flowers to the courtyard.

The delivered landscape is one of refinement and softness. The large lawn features combined with the gabions, timber walls and seats, create a garden feel, which is intrinsically more appealing to the users (and potential new tenants) than the former hard and windswept landscape spaces.

The key message of the scheme is that corporate and commercial public realm landscapes can be soft and innovative in both function and form. There has been a precedent for the widespread use of polished granite cladding, metal and glass to represent ambition and success in both commercial architectural and public realm design. The scheme challenges this preconception by creating a softer, welcoming and comforting landscape which celebrates sustainability as an aesthetic in itself. For these challenging economic times, in which we increasingly value a more compassionate and sensitive approach, this scheme seeks to embrace these values through softer forms, material re-use, sensitive interventions and refined bespoke detailing, which push sustainable landscape ideas to the top of the conceptual agenda.

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