Is this garden the benchmark for urban landscaping?


Landscape Architects, Randle Siddeley Associates & manufacturers Kinley Systems have worked with developers Lend Lease to produce bespoke benches and planters to allow residents to 'grow their own' in the Trafalgar Place garden area.
Landscape Architects, Randle Siddeley Associates & manufacturers Kinley Systems have worked with developers Lend Lease to produce bespoke benches and planters to allow residents to ‘grow their own’ in the Trafalgar Place garden area.

When the words ‘Property Developer’ are uttered, with some people it conjures up efforts to squeeze as many buildings into a small a space as possible, yet there are literally hundreds of developments within the UK that are fantastic examples of just the opposite. The regeneration of the Elephant & Castle area in South London is exactly the type of project which flies in the face of such stereotypes. Lend Lease have worked in partnership with Southwark Council on a series of areas of which Trafalgar Place is but one. There have been a number of collaborations and partnerships to produce fantastic design and sustainability at all levels. The inner courtyard of the development has been the subject of real blue sky thinking by the Landscape Architects Randle Siddeley and they have worked with Sussex based Landscape Product Manufacturers, Kinley Systems, to form another partnership. The bond between designer and manufacturer involves a great deal of trust so that the design aspiration can be crafted in reality without compromise by either party. The courtyard has been created to form what can best be described as an allotment with specially designed raised beds, benches and combined planters and seating modules. The Kinley Production Team pulled out all the stops using Corten Steel and fully PEFC Compliant Timber to fashion bespoke benches based on a design by Randall Siddeley Associates architect George Flynn. As George explains;

“The benches and planters were designed by me whilst being part of Randle Siddeley Associates.

They were originally to be timber planters but we managed to persuade the client toward the Corten Steel option. All vegetation had to be raised due to the car park beneath and the planters had to be robust enough to withstand the large multi-stem tree planting.”

The design partnership took into account not only the fact that the planters needed to be raised to allow sufficient root growth and stability but also the fact that residents will be multi generational and whilst the younger gardeners can easily reach, and see, what is being planted, the older generation do not have to bend too far. The ideal height is no accident as any less mobile individuals in wheelchairs or mobility scooters can also fully participate. The benches are ideal seating areas for those who want to rest or for the less arduous tasks of spectating and supervision. The benefits of the Corten Steel are numerous but of course their robust construction and almost no maintenance make them the ‘go-to’ material for many Garden and Landscape Designers. The edgy industrial appearance of Corten Steel creates a rather vintage impression suggesting that they have been there for a while and anchors the whole concept. The fact that these are bespoke shows that there are almost limitless options with Corten Steel when working with such an innovative manufacturer and the sustainably sourced timber can of course easily be replaced with a recycled composite material if required.

The commercial aspect has not gone unnoticed as the ‘allotment’ has been a major selling point for the podium apartments with many potential residents looking forward to ‘growing their own’. There is no doubt that Lend Lease should be congratulated for assembling a team capable of undertaking such a project. Partnering has long been an aspiration in UK Construction and from Lend Lease & Southwark Council to Randle Siddeley Associates Architects and Kinley Systems, great teamwork is evident throughout the whole Elephant & Castle regeneration scheme.

For any architect or designer looking for cutting edge Landscape Products in a more conventional format, or of course a completely bespoke approach, we leave the final words to George Flynn:

“I love the Kinley product range and the company. There are extremely professional and very helpful, delivering fantastic products. They have been well received by the client.”

The concept is relatively simple but if you want to build communities rather than just houses then there is nothing better to get everyone ‘mucking in together’. Hopefully this has sown the aspirational design seed and architects will be challenging the Kinley design and production teams with their own concepts.

After all this is what benchmarks are for.

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Contact Kinley Systems now to discuss your project on 01424 201 111 or email the team at Also, why not download the 4 Page pdf Case Study on Trafalgar Place now.

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