Intelligence: 5 December 2019Delivering New Urban Vistas

As the skyline of London continues to grow, so does the desire and need for good quality homes. Here Landscape Director Alex Comrie explains how a development in Battersea has achieved that.

With Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms close by, Berkeley Homes’ new Battersea flagship development, ‘Vista’ is perfectly located on the edge of Battersea Park. Just a stone’s throw from the River Thames and only minutes from fashionable Chelsea, the development has far reaching views over leafy Battersea Park from which it takes its inspiration.

Working alongside Scott Brownrigg Architects since 2013, our Landscape Architecture team sought from the outset to create a welcoming, outward facing development, that is as much about good architecture as it is about positive place making. The landscape vision supports the soft curving lines and stepped balconies of the schemes architecture to create a series of garden spaces which also climb up the face of the building, softening the façade and reflecting the character of the adjacent park.

Providing a strong landscape vision has been a really important element of the project, with the dramatic architecture making a strong design statement. Client, Berkeley Central London said: “The cascading exterior of the buildings creates a superb feeling of space and light in the apartments, whilst providing outstanding outlooks. The beautifully landscaped sunken garden helps to enhance the feeling of open space.”

The layout creates a series of spaces and internal streets which encourage activity and pedestrian movement through the development, physically linking it to its neighbours and the new Nine Elms scheme to the east. It also plays a crucial role in enlivening this 456-unit scheme which also includes 1,300m2 of commercial space, local store, community café, gym and estate agents.

The landscaping brief was broken down into three key requirements:

Kerb Appeal

From the outset Berkeley Homes needed to ensure that they were able to market and sell each phase of the development as it was completed and handed over. To achieve this the landscaping had to look its best immediately, providing a verdant and highquality environment for the new residents.

The planting approach therefore provides seasonal interest and instant impact when handed over to the residents. It also needs to screen and mitigate for the later phases which have yet to be completed, so mature shrubs, hedges and trees were invested in throughout to help screen the potential disturbance from construction operations in later phases. In addition, all planting was carefully selected to ensure it was pest and disease resilient with low water requirements, limiting the maintenance requirements throughout the build phases and beyond.

A Series of Garden Rooms

The vision was to create a verdant and tranquil series of spaces that could provide sanctuary from the busy London life as well as reflect the leafy qualities of the adjacent park, visually pulling the greenery into and throughout the buildings. Despite constraints due to the garden’s location over a concrete podium slab, the design includes groups of semi mature trees to provide instant cover and softness. Each tree has been given a minimum of 15 sqm of soil volume, sharing rooting zone, water and oxygen to maximise successful establishment.

Each of these plants were contract grown especially for the project and inspected regularly before being delivered to site, to ensure they looked their best when planted.

THE VISION WAS TO CREATE A VERDANT AND TRANQUIL SERIES OF SPACES, PROVIDING SANCTUARY FROM BUSY LONDON LIFE AS WELL AS REFLECTING THE LEAFY QUALITIES OF THE ADJACENT PARK, VISUALLY PULLING GREENERY INTO AND THROUGHOUT THE BUILDINGS.

Hanging Gardens

Running up the face of the building are a series of large private terraces, which include extensive areas of planting. The challenge here was to create a low maintenance feature that provides sensory and wildlife interest and is of a scale which can be seen from the street, without blocking the views from each balcony. As a result, a Mediterranean mix of drought tolerant sensory plants were selected, with long grasses providing movement in the wind, marjoram and germander providing fragrant herbs, whilst sedum and sea thrift add an injection of colour.

The project became a labour of love for all involved and was completed in Autumn 2018 after five years of hard but rewarding work. Many lessons have been learnt along the way which we are already transferring to subsequent urban sites across London and beyond.

Vista, Chelsea Bridge has been shortlisted in the landscaping category of the forthcoming Architects' Journal Specification Awards 2020.

Read more about the Vista, Chelsea Bridge.

Featured in Update Issue 20.

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