Shortlisted landscape designs announced for UK's first Garden City of the 21st Century

by Megan Whitby | 03 Jul 2018

An international design competition to determine who will design the first Garden City of the 21st century has been whittled down to five, with Ebbsfleet to become the largest of 10 "Healthy New Towns" being developed in the UK.

The competition was launched by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and the NHS in March to find the best creative and inspiring ideas, which will be used to shape the landscape of the new Garden City.

The competition features two stages and is managed by The Landscape Institute. The first stage of the competition invited entries from landscape professionals, or teams including landscape professionals, with multidisciplinary teams incorporating artists and engineers particularly encouraged.

Competition organisers wanted to “challenge landscape professionals and students to collaborate with other built environment professions, artists, and place-makers and propose design ideas for what can be achieved in a truly modern healthy city”.

"The range of ideas and approaches we have received and the shortlist is outstanding," said Kevin McKeogh, director of the Ebbsfleet Healthy New Town Programme and member of the judging panel. "I look forward to the competition moving on to its next phase”.

Below are the five entrants the panel of ten judges chose to go through to the second stage of the competition, as well as a description of their plans in their own words:

The Chalk Walk

Additive Urbanism, a landscape design studio led by Matthew Halsall CMLI. In collaboration with Ryan Szyani, architectural installation designer.

The Chalk Walk seeks to build on the success of recent guided walking tours in Ebbsfleet, and the appetite for exploration and learning about nature. A circular walking route would be created, orientated around the site’s monolithic man-made chalk landscape features; punctuated by a series of vertical gardens built into the chalk.

Expert advice has been sought from local ecological groups, Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife, to create a series of nature interventions that combine to form an educational wildlife trail - The Chalk Walk. This would be implemented prior to the main development, employing a series of devices connecting new and existing communities to one another, in order to greatly improve access to nature and provide a healthy alternative to travelling by car.

Ebbsfleet Sublime LDA Design in collaboration with Architecture 00 and Vivid Economics.

Places are more important to well-being than objects. This was the outcome of a recent study by Surrey University. Ebbsfleet should celebrate the deep human desire for authenticity and connection with place and people that underpins wellbeing. Our proposal fundamentally reorients planning and delivery processes away from land, infrastructure, and buildings to place, landscape and wellbeing.

The Ebbsfleet Sublime is imagined as a beautiful, carefully curated experiential landscape which accommodates productive land, play, workspace, recreation. It draws out the sublimity of nature from the Ebbsfleet landscape and adopts the painterly techniques of Turner, Gainsborough, and Lambert to create a heightened sense of wellbeing. At the heart of the Ebbsfleet Sublime is a calculated and determined effort to overcome the pre-eminent challenge of delivering a new Garden City at scale and pace by leading with the landscape.

Everyday Adventure

Huskisson Brown Associates working with Claire Powell Chartered Physiotherapist.

Everyday Adventure focuses on creating a framework of accessible, active and sociable green routes that connect communities, destinations and population groups and promote walking and physical activity as the preferred choice for everyday journeys and experiences. Fundamentally, the routes will be designed to inspire active living and physical activity for all ages and abilities and create uplifting places that engender a feeling of safety, belonging and happiness.

The area’s local context and unique cultural and industrial heritage will be celebrated through the creation of links to the wider landscape and urban fabric as well as contextual detailed design measures. Everyday Adventure will bring community groups together and provide cross-generational health and well-being outcomes associated with increased physical activity, social interaction and being outdoors.

H.A.L.O Bradley Murphy Design in collaboration with JTP, Peter Brett Associates and Sebastien Boyesen

HALO delivers healthy infrastructure to the doorstep. It provides accessible, attractive and inspirational places that motivate citizens to engage in physical activity as a natural part of their daily lives. It comprises four key interventions that overlay Ebbsfleet like a web. They connect people to place and to each other, addressing the fragmentation of landscape and habitats, limitations of access and restricted sources of healthy food.

The model is built around five healthy lifestyle principles: equality of access; connection with nature; engagement with food production; access to people and; the importance of physical activity. These interventions respond to local context through a range of typological treatments, that are reflective of local landscape character, building a richness of experience that is unique to Ebbsfleet.

Swanscombe Gorge Park By Chris Blandford Associates in association with Buro Happold and Proctor & Matthews

Welcome to Swanscombe Gorge Park, a dramatic and hidden wooded ravine at the heart of Ebbsfleet Garden City. The aims are to: reconnect the landscape and communities; regenerate and repair the existing natural landscape; rejuvenate the site with cultural and recreational activities and to re-use local materials.

Their inspirations include: the geological story of chalk; in particular, the spectacular fossils of fish skeletons associated with its marine formation. The legacy of the area’s chalk quarrying heritage: the unique landform of Craylands Gorge cut into the chalk bedrock to provide a tramway between Eastern Quarry and the cement works on Swanscombe Peninsula; the tramway’s tunnels cut into the white chalk spines symbolising portals or gateways to another place, realm or time; and the local folklore associated with ‘deneholes’ (Medieval chalk extraction pits with narrow shafts opening out into chambers often used to conceal people and illicit goods).

The five shortlisted companies will now have received a second stage brief for the latter half of the competition which tasks them with composing designs for one of the lakes within the city. The winner will be announced at the LI (Landscape Institute) Annual Conference on 6 September 2018.

Ebbsfleet  NHS  The Landscape Institute 
Related stories

International competition launched for UK’s first Garden City of the 21st Century

David Stalker: Garden city must adopt physical activity strategy

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