The Mobile Garden City responds to the growing pressure on land in big cities, where construction can dominate everyday life, by developing a community space and a growing hub on a piece of land lost between purposes. The Mobile Garden City has been instrumental in creating communal space and activities where local networks can grow. It showcases the vital importance of such spaces within permanent developments in the park and reignites the vital connection between food and its production. It demonstrates sustainability through re-use of materials, technologies such as solar power, and the use of an anaerobic digester. Volunteers and trainees worked on the project, and there is a design manual to ensure that the design vision moves with the garden. Through its design and concept, it succeeds in developing fledging communities of the Olympic Park, and offers a replicable model for ‘meanwhile’ sites amid the constant flux of modern cities.
Approximate Map Location
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
|Type of scheme|
Temporary productive garden
Parks and gardens
Highly commended LI Awards 2016
Capital budget: £150,000; Design fees and expenditure: £50,000
3 July 2015
The project plays a key role in the legacy plan following the Olympic Games,
This exciting new garden will be a place for the whole community to enjoy, a place for both relaxing and getting active with expert-led gardening workshops, food growing and horticulture training. It will kick start community activity during challenging early stages of construction and embolden positive public occupation on this key site. It will animate the route from Leyton into the park, strengthening important connections with the Leyton communities and new neighbourhoods.
A communal eating area and cooking area will encourage the use of site produce and societal exchange, as local people can come together to share in the bounty of communal gardening.
Landscape practice: Groundwork London for Our Parklife with Public Works / Somewhere; client: London Legacy Development Corporation; design champions: (public works) Andreas Lang; (somewhere): Nina Pope, Karen Guthrie, Laurent Mot, Nic Laurent, (graphic design) Koby Barhad; structural advice on design for relocation: Blue Engineering; site development and enabling works: Chobham Manor LLP; landscape contractor/ design consultant; The Landscape Group
The Mobile Garden City is based on ideas of Ebenezer Howard, inverting the garden city concept as a microcosm of the ever changing face of Stratford, urban zones re-envisaged on a human scale. The short walk from the fields, through industrial areas and the suburbs to the town square allows the user to consider the make up of the city, and the components that must be considered in any new urban interface.
• Client engaged throughout to ensure design met expectations
Many materials were reused from the Games or salvaged from other sources, adding longevity to short life items and reducing the environmental impact of this project. Seating, concrete blocks, containers, timber fencing were rescued from QEOP, while planters were constructed from discarded scaffold boards and old pallets.
Elements including the bespoke benches and tables, with integrated pot holders, herb planters and BBQ and compost bins were designed to fit within the cube format, to be moveable by forklift, and to uphold the aesthetic of the garden. The steel edges also reflect the ring round the Olympic Marker Tree, which stands in the Chobham Manor site.
The materials also maintain the construction aesthetic, hinting at the temporary nature of the garden city in its current form. Reused items add depth to the scheme, as inert objects with past (and future) lives bring their own history and memories, giving the garden reach beyond the ephemeral.