Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Capability Brown and AGT Celebrations

The Association of Gardens Trusts is 20 years old!  We celebrated at our Annual Conference in East London.  London Parks & Gardens Trust treated us to a look at the regeneration that has taken place in East London's designed landscapes over the last 60 years.  From the restoration of Victoria Park http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgsl/451-500/461_parks/victoria_park/history.aspx to the soon to be completed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk, this area of London has been completely transformed.

The regeneration of Mile End Park started in 1995. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgsl/451500/461_parks/mile_end_park/history_and_background.aspx.  Part of the brief was that it should be built in consultation with the local community and that it should be sustainable.  Mike Rowan, Head of Parks in Tower Hamlets until earlier this year, talked us through the process.  Today, the park caters for the needs of a very diverse group of visitors and in an inspirational way.  It left many of us pondering the lack of similar opportunities for young people in rural areas.

(copyright Liz Ware)
Regeneration hasn't been easy.  Fortunately, there have been enough people with vision to carry these enormous projects through.  Visiting the Thames Barrier Park and the Olympic Park today, it's difficult to believe that the land on both sites was ever heavily contaminated.  Over a million cubic metres of soil had to be cleaned on-site before the Olympic Park could be built.

Olympic Park landscape architects Andrew Harland and David Thompson talked us through the next stage of the project: transforming it into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  The vast areas of concrete that were needed to cope with the many thousands of Olympic visitors can now be reduced and replaced with something more inviting. http://www.willerby-landscapes.co.uk/were-back...at-south-park.html

In Canary Wharf, building up towards the sky and putting car parks and shopping malls underground leaves plenty of space for green squares at ground level.  It was a curious sensation to stand in the peaceful, undulating landscape of Jubilee Park, designed by Jacques and Peter Wirtz, and watch the madness of retail therapy taking place in the shopping mall below.

What else are we celebrating?  The launch of the Capability Brown website.  Have a look and see which organisations are partnering us in the preparations for the Brown Tercentenary.  2016 will be such a great opportunity to get people engaged with designed landscapes.  It's a chance to open people's eyes, not only to Brownian landscapes, but also to the diverse range of designed landscapes that exist on their doorsteps. http://www.capabilitybrown.org

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