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The Water Gardens, London - light case study


The Water Gardens is a 5000sqm iconic Brutalist 1960s semi-public communal courtyard podium deck, covered by a large shallow concrete pond, serving over 200 apartments.

The podium deck was leaking into the undercroft car park and was in urgent need of repair.

R-LA’s design restored the original Brutalist layout with innovative contemporary solutions.

These included a dynamic new paving design; a pedestrian priority road upgrade; contemporary jet water features; diverse drought tolerant terrestrial planting providing interest, biodiversity, habitat, and food all year round; new aquatic shallow shelves containing the vegetation substrate and promoting wildlife breeding; reinstatement of the forgotten 60s self-sufficient tree irrigation system by reconnecting the large planters with the pond; a new SuDS rainwater attenuation and harvesting system.

The existing ponds (with a similar area to the surrounding pedestrian hard surfaces) were clogged and murky with 50 years of sediment and pollution.

By cleaning and dredging the ponds and introducing new aquatic planting, the original Water Gardens attenuation capacity was significantly increased with improved air quality and reduced heat-island effect.

The noise of the nearby busy roads was masked by the play of new water jets which have an important role in oxygenating the pond.

At the heart of the project was the interconnectivity of hard surfaces, water and nature. The new design had in mind the wellbeing of its users, reconnecting people to nature and water providing a safe and beautiful oasis of tranquillity in the city.

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