The brief was to provide a new public park in the Manor Royal Business District, which had been formed with the designation of Crawley as a new town. The park has acted as a catalyst for regeneration and set a precedent for other neglected pieces of land nearby. It is used for both intended and unintended activities, including geocaching, lunch-time exercise and wildlife recording days.
The brief emphasised the need to find new and more co-operative ways of looking after projects once they are completed and involving local people. Innovation in the design including incorporating photovoltaic cells and a battery in signs to power uplighters and the chipping of wood that was removed to create wildlife habitats.
The scheme delivers a range of environmental, social and economic benefits and is underpinned by sustainable design principles throughout, including the choice and sourcing of materials and plants.
Approximate Map Location
Crawley, West Sussex
Manor Royal Business District
|Type of scheme|
Parks and gardens
Highly commended LI Awards 2016
26 September 2014
The designation of Crawley as a New Town alongside the development of Gatwick Airport, were the primary drivers behind the emergence of the Manor Royal Business District (MRBD). Today, the area is home to more
Allen Scott were appointed by MRBD, a business improvement district in Crawley, West Sussex to produce a prospectus of capital improvement projects that could be delivered over an extended period of time to address
The brief was to provide a new public park that would act as a catalyst and precedent for the regeneration of other neglected pieces of land; to create a distinct landmark at one of the key entrances to the business district; and to ensure that the proposals and future upkeep are designed, delivered and managed sustainably. The brief emphasised the need to find new and more co-operative ways of looking after projects once they are completed and involving local people.
Landscape practice: Allen Scott; client: Manor Royal Business District; steering group: Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council and Sussex Wildlife Trust; engineer: Waterman Infrastructure & Environment; contractor: Edburton Contractors; subcontractors: Katsura Gardens; fabricators: Laddingford Engineering (metal work); Albion Architectural (concrete); Adam Kershaw (timber elements); and Arc Creative (interpretation)
The south entrance has been designed to fulfil a variety of functions. It acts both as a dynamic and static space; its distinctly directional layout is designed to entice people into and through the park, whilst also providing seating and space to linger and people-watch. It is also intended to function as a landmark at this key entrance point to Manor Royal.
The scale, geometries and materials of the various elements in this area are designed to be highly legible and work together to reinforce the concept.
The materials and planting are restrained, robust and appropriate to the site and context. The existing culverts, control structures, and canalised stream all, in different ways, use concrete; corten steel has an affinity with the ‘forgotten’ qualities of the space and industrial context; willow trees grow in the basin and are synonymous with water - we wanted to draw on this association; limestone to dust paths (on a cellular confinement system) are versatile and work well in both formal and informal contexts; and the douglas fir and oak seats provide much needed tactile elements to the design.
The planting aesthetic can be described as a kind of stylised naturalism and plays on themes of contrast and juxtaposition. We used willow trees, which are often associated with water and natural habitats, but arranged them in a clear line, in pollarded form. The way they move in the wind, their texture and colour contrast strikingly with the built elements of the design.