The winning scheme and the three runners-up in an international contest for ‘ambitious and creative’ ideas to transform London into a national park city have been unveiled
The victorious proposals – drawn up by Farrells, Rotterdam-based architects Chris Rossetto and Emma Lubbers, London-based designer Anne Frobeen, and London architects Siân Moxon and Jon Moxon – were chosen from more than 50 entries to the contest.
Concepts by Studio Octopi, landscape architect Dimitris Grozopoulos and urban planner Loredana Micu were named as runners-up.
Open to student and professional architects, landscape architects and urban planners, the competition sought proposals to upgrade London’s natural infrastructure and integrate its gardens, streets, rivers, buildings and parks into a single landscape.
The initiative, backed by Time Out London and The London National Park City Foundation, aims to enhance the 1,572km2 city by adopting the principles of the UK’s existing rural national parks – better conservation, better enjoyment and better economy – for the benefit of its 8.6 million residents.
Commenting on the winning schemes, competition judge Andrew Grant of Grant Associates said: ‘Here are ideas that would make us all think differently about London, about the quality of life we wish to lead and the importance of nature in cities.
‘These are ideas that would translate to every town and city in the world and would make London a global leader in restoring the broken links between people and nature.’
London is England’s most populous city and the largest city within Europe. It features about 16,000ha of open green spaces – around 40 per cent of its total area.
Key green assets include the eight former royal hunting grounds – Green Park, St James’s Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park, Bushy Park, and Richmond Park (pictured) – which together represent nearly 2,000ha of greenery.
The city also hosts hundreds of urban garden squares, council-run parks, commons, heaths, forests, river path walks and greenways.
The ideas competition invited artists, designers, illustrators, cartographers, urbanists, film-makers, developers, architects and landscape architects to help craft a large-scale and long-term vision for the city as a new national park.
Proposals could focus on individual developments and green micro-interventions or the capital’s entire cityscape. The contest also encouraged facilities such a green corridors, neighbourhoods and play spaces, which improve air quality, increase biodiversity, boost community cohesion, improve mental health and combat childhood obesity.
Judges included the London-based writer Will Self, Andrew Grant of Grant Associates, Ben Smith from AECOM, Pat Fitzsimons of the Thames Estuary Partnership and Alison Prendiville from the London College of Communication.
Rewild my Street
Created by Siân and Jon Moxon, Rewild my Street is a simple idea with enormous potential. Take a typical London residential street; adapt its terraces, gardens and streetscape to transform it into a haven for wildlife by adding wildflower meadows, patio ponds, bird feeders and insect hotels – and watch the wildlife return in droves. With 3.8 million gardens covering 24 per cent of the capital, the impact would be huge if everyone did this, say the architects. Siân is a senior lecturer at the The Cass School of Art, Architecture & Design and Jon is an architect at The Pattern Project.
Winner: Rewild my Street by Siân Moxon and Jon Moxon
Conceived by Chris Rossetto and Emma Lubbers from The Netherlands, The Trail would be an uninterrupted garden path of peaceful green spaces, winding through inner London’s iconic neighbourhoods and linking its parks into a single continuous woven landscape. The Trail contributes an additional layer to London’s transport network, and reimagines how Londoners move around the city. Less about speed and efficiency, The Trail promotes a more relaxed journey, healthy recreational activity, quality green spaces, and improved air quality.
Winner: The Trail by Chris Rossetto and Emma Lubbers
The Living Network
A large-scale idea from a team at London-based Farrells, the Living Network sees the National Park City as being made up of a rich variety of different green spaces including private gardens, parks, waterways and the entire green belt. The Living Network would formally combine all of the environmental layers of London into one single green infrastructure network so that Londoners can better discover, learn from, protect and grow green city environments. The Living Network would accompanied by an online platform, including an app and website, into which all Londoners could explore and upload information about their green spaces.
Winner: The Living Network by Farrells (Ben Nourse, Donika Llakmani, Maysa Phares and Jaewon Shin)
London Green Bus Network
Envisioned by Anne Frobeen, a UK-based designer, the London Green Bus Network would have routes specifically designed to help Londoners access and enjoy a greater variety of green space across the city and beyond. The buses themselves would visually highlight green connections in the city and physically make it easier for a wider range of people, ages and abilities to get out and explore.
Winner: London Green Bus Network by Anne Frobeen
The Blue Line
Developed by Landscape Architect Dimitris Grozopoulos, the Blue Line is a strategic proposal for Nine Elms that could be scaled up to the wider city of London using existing railway infrastructure. Through small and medium-scale interventions and the concept of ‘urban acupuncture’ the proposal seeks to improve water management and enhance biodiversity. Taking into consideration the historical context, local heritage and environmental necessity, The Blue Line invites local communities to engage with and celebrate water in the public realm through a series of pocket parks with water as a joining artery.
Highly commended: The Blue Line by Dimitris Grozopoulos
Hackney – An Integrated Approach
Urban Planner and Landscape Architect Loredana Micu entered a vision for strong integrated system of green areas, public spaces, communities and administrations for part of Hackney in east London. Using this sample of London as a case study, Loredana has drawn a picture of how all areas of London could be integrated. The proposal looks at creating focal points, connected through quality public nodes and routes. It includes improvements to existing green and public spaces, creating new spaces and developing a system of community and educational gardens.
Highly commended: Hackney - An integrated approach by Loredana Micu
Loft Gardens uses the opportunity presented by London’s under-exploited roofscape to create diverse new green spaces and increase the availability of outdoor space for Londoners, including those who live above the ground floor. Loft Gardens could be used for vegetable patches or beehives and could, for example, alternate down a terraced street, providing vitality and biodiversity to new and existing housing stock, as well as enhancing health and well-being and improving air quality. This idea comes from Studio Octopi, an architectural firm best known for proposals to re-build Peckham Lido and to create a naturally filtered floating lido in the Thames.
Highly commended: Loft Gardens by Studio Octopi