Winner of world-class landscape design competition announced for first Garden City of the 21st Century

In March, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and NHS England launched an international design competition. The brief: to find the best creative and inspiring ideas to help shape the landscape of Ebbsfleet, the first new Garden City of the 21st Century, and the largest of 10 Healthy New Towns being developed in the UK.

Michael Cassidy CBE, Chair of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, took to the stage on day one of the LI’s 2018 conference, Valuing Landscape: Connecting People, Place and Nature, to announce the winner.

Earlier in the day, conference delegates had a chance to view at the competition shortlist at the University of Greenwich’s Stockwell Street library exhibition space. Judges agreed that all of the entries were fantastic, but in the end, were unanimous in selecting the winner: HALO (Hives, Arcs, Links and Organics).

A model for growing a healthy infrastructure, HALO is a concept developed by Bradley Murphy Design, in collaboration with John Thompson Partnership, Peter Brett Associates and Sebastien Boyesen.

The concept aims to deliver healthy infrastructure to residents’ doorsteps. By providing accessible, attractive and inspirational places, residents will be motivated to take up physical activity as a natural part of their daily lives. The design is made up of four key interventions to the landscape that will overlay Ebbsfleet like a web:

  • Connecting people to places and to each other through activity hubs that foster social and community engagement
  • Addressing the fragmentation of landscape and habitats via a ‘people highway’ that provides uninterrupted access to nature
  • Exploring accessibility issues and the unique challenges the site presents using a green-grid network for community and wildlife movement
  • Solving the lack of sources of healthy food with focal points for food production and habitat creation

In the view of the judges, HALO demonstrated such thorough practicality of thinking that the concept fulfilled exactly what they had hoped for: a design that was radical, but realisable. The panel was also excited by its possibilities, particularly because the design reflected the ‘three magnets’ concept developed by the garden city movement’s founder, Ebenezer Howard.

The second phase of the Ebbsfleet Design Challenge focused on the Blue Lake site, because of the opportunities it offers local communities to benefit from the landscape. It will also be at the heart of the Garden City, and one of the site’s seven city parks.

Dan Cook, CEO of the Landscape Institute – who managed the competition – said: ‘When you launch a competition of this kind you are never quite sure what response you are going to get. The judges were impressed by the standard of entries and the innovative thinking shown. HALO’s winning design stood out for its clarity, and the collaboration of the multidisciplinary team bringing together the best aspects of living in London with those of living in Kent, the Garden of England.

‘The landscape profession has really risen to the occasion with some excellent entries that sought to tackle many of the issues faced at complex site. The panel of judges were truly impressed with all of the finalists’ designs, and felt they showed inspirational leadership, an ability to think holistically when faced with such a challenging site, and how it connects with the people who live to improve their lives.

Other shortlisted entries

Additive Urbanism – Chalk Walk

Making optimum use of the existing chalk quarry faces and the brackish water of Blue Lake to create a proposal with strong ecological thinking about habitat management and a nationally important wildlife attraction.

Chris Blandford – Blue Lake Gardens

Combining the local history, geography and ecology, the proposal combined an interesting range of garden types with a particular angle on edible growing, to engage communities of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Huskisson Brown – Everyday Adventure

An impressive multidisciplinary collaboration with a physiotherapist and Commonwork Trust to envisage the site as a ‘green prescription’ for preventative healthcare and everyday healthy living.

LDA Design – Ebbsfleet Sublime

This concept uses productive land and spaces for play, work and leisure to celebrate and stimulates the sense of belonging that underpins the feeling of wellbeing.

The judges also highly commended a further project: the New Landscape Guides to Ebbsfleet. Inspired by 20th century guidebooks describing British counties, the concept promoted reconnecting people to place through the language of land and nature.


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