A new vision for Queenâ€™s Jubilee Gardens
“The old site was as flat as a pancake; it had no drama, wherever you sat nothing happened. We wanted to dramatise the site and play with the sublime views of the Thames and the London skyline.” – Adriaan Geuze
The new Queen’s Jubilee Gardens will be visited by millions of people. What was your vision for the project?
For a long time the park was just a flat, swampy lawn with a terrible quality of grass that functioned as the doormat for the London Eye. It was very clear to us that we needed to transform the space and replace it with a new, green landscape up to a Royal Parks’ standard. We wanted to create the illusion of an English landscape: the undulating lawns, lush trees and the rolling fields, so we played around with the view lines and used wide granite edges designed to look as if they were made from the chalk of the Dover cliffs.
The project has been described as quintessentially English, how have you expressed this through your landscape choices?
The park is very simple. We wanted to invest in seasonality, so we planted 70 new trees allowing them to create shade and we designed colourful flowerbeds to reflect the changes of the season. The old site was as flat as a pancake; it had no drama, wherever you sat nothing happened. We wanted to dramatise the site and play with the sublime views of the Thames and the London skyline, so we introduced beautiful, wide granite edges around the park, double curved, both vertically and horizontally. These edges add a welcoming element to the park, providing seating and encouraging people to stay in the park.
As a practice, West 8 is known for its cutting edge style. How have you made your mark on such a public project?
We always wanted to create a park that was relaxed and would fit into the London legacy. This wasn’t a place for boundary-pushing design. Seasonality and the beauty of vegetation amaze me, so for me it is enough to build a project based on that.
How important were the themes of sustainability and legacy?
From day one sustainability was a big focus: a London park stays forever. In London, people don’t take their green spaces for granted, they mentally own their parks. For us, it was important to create a place that was worthy of its location, a multi-user park, where people can sit in the sun and enjoy the panorama – a meeting place for visitors, workers and local communities that reflects its prominent, cultural location.
To find out more about West 8 and the Queen’s Jubilee Gardens, visit www.west8.nl