New London Architecture

NLA and Southwark Council reveal winner of Bramcote Park design competition

Monday 07 February 2022

Southwark-based, award-winning design and architecture collective Assemble has won a design competition organised by New London Architecture (NLA) and Southwark Council to masterplan the redevelopment of Bramcote Park in collaboration with landscape architects and circular economy specialists Local Works Studio. With their winning proposal ‘A Park Made in Bermondsey’, Assemble and Local Works Studio beat five other shortlisted teams bidding for the project and will work with Assemble Play and Webb Yates to develop a creative masterplan that prioritises community input and turns a disjointed public park in South Bermondsey into a valuable and welcoming green space for all.
Assemble’s and Local Works Studio’s approach to the competition will be to learn from and work together with residents, children, manufacturers, trades, and community leaders at all stages of the design and making process. The design will evolve further following ongoing consultations with the local community and the final scheme will be delivered in late 2022. 
The winning concept features a park of two halves: public square and forest garden. The historic green space to the south of Verney Road will be cultivated to become a ‘forest garden’ with open spaces to explore, which have the feeling of a woodland edge or meadow glade. Existing planting will be enriched with an abundance of edible and characterful plants from around the world. The diversity in structure and species will greatly enhance habitats for wildlife, whilst maintaining lines of sight from the street and a feeling of safe enclosures. There will be space for future volunteer community gardens to add to the simple structure, cultivate, harvest and care for parts of the garden. 
The open character of the space to the north of Verney Road will be enhanced to create an elegant, robust neighbourhood square, flexible enough to accommodate the changing needs of people in the park. The square will be a welcoming space to be active and play, with a flexible play area that can be transformed on special occasions for community events. Surrounding the hard ground will be a green buffer of low maintenance planting and grass, dotted with play features. The wide pavement surrounding the square will be lined with trees and places to sit and watch the world go by. 
Children will be encouraged to occupy all parts of the park and playable space will be integrated into the layout and landscaping of both the square and the garden. Features will be co-designed with children during play events and fabricated nearby, with opportunities for young people to collaborate in their making. 
A key design element is to make Verney Road an integral part of the park, as it is the main gateway between the garden and the square. Paths and entrance gates will welcome and guide pedestrians to a shared crossing well away from the main action of the square. Greenery and a distinctive surface will encourage cautious driving across the shared road space. Road layout will be adaptable, as long-term developments in the wider area lead to a reduction in traffic. 

The winning team will take a circular economy approach to the design and delivery of Bramcote Park, prioritising materials and ways of constructing landscape that have the most positive impact on the environment. Through inventive, playful reuse, the team will retain as much material on site as possible during and after the refurbishment, considering the whole life of materials to minimise transport and waste. 
The team also recognises the importance of Bramcote Park as a key piece of green infrastructure for the neighbourhood. Existing veteran trees will provide economical, natural structure to the park, whilst new planting will increase biodiversity. The team will work with local greening initiatives, seeking opportunities to grow plants locally, and enable community participation in the transformation and ongoing care of the neighbourhoods’ green lungs. An emphasis on design for reuse, repair, cultivation, and maintenance of existing assets will generate opportunities to support local supply chains and organisations that will enhance the social and economic legacy of Bramcote Park’s improvement.
The competition’s open call invited architects, landscape architects, designers, and artists to consider the transformative impact of the masterplan at all scales. Building on existing local feedback, this includes updates to the sustainability and durability of seating and play provisions, as well as public realm improvements that could reduce vehicular traffic on the road dividing the park, to create a unified green space that facilitates safe pedestrian connections and accessibility.
The competition was judged by an expert panel including:
  • Aida Esposito, Founding Director of creativethinking
  • Rosa Rogina, Director, London Festival of Architecture (part of NLA)
  • Sanjiv Sangha, Head of Technical, Design Quality and New Homes at Optivo
  • Colin Wilson, Head of Regeneration, Old Kent Road, Southwark Council 
  • Laura Schofield, Membership Development Manager at the Landscape Institute
  • Conor Sullivan, Southwark Council local resident
Revive Bramcote Park competition was made possible due to funding from the ongoing regeneration of Old Kent Road and supported by landowners Notting Hill Genesis and Optivo.

Shortlisted teams can be viewed here, and included: Bamidele, Farouk & Livia with Spacehub, John Puttick Associates with BBUK and Heather Burrell, Ludwig Willis Architects with Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects, Esther Calinawan & Poku-Davies Studio, Okra with Build Up, Hortus Collective and Op.x and Sanchez Benton Architects with Gabriel Kuri and Nigel Dunnet.

Spokesperson from Assemble and Local Works Studio, said: “We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to revive Bramcote Park, in collaboration with a broad team of practitioners and local residents. We can’t wait to get started”.

Laura Schofield, Membership Developer Manager at Landscape Institute, said: “What stood out for me was the winning team’s combination of a creative and community centric approach, alongside technical and professional skills including art, play, landscape and engineering. In their initial concept, they recognised the multi-functional value of green spaces such as sustainable drainage systems providing biodiversity and play opportunities. The team also demonstrated they’d thought about the project beyond the design and construction stages towards longer term management including community involvement”.

Cllr Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development at Southwark Council, said: “Congratulations to Assemble on their winning entry. This is a wonderful opportunity to deliver a project that will have a real and meaningful social impact. The Old Kent Road area is undergoing a major transformation that will deliver huge benefits to local people, not least by creating new housing, new jobs, and a much better environment. This project will be paid for by contributions from developers in the area, and Assemble’s designs will help us to deliver a much-improved park for today’s community and for generations to come”.
Rosa Rogina, Director of London Festival of Architecture (part of NLA), said: “New London Architecture uses its profile and platform to improve London by harnessing the city’s incredible architectural and creative talent. Assemble and Local Works Studio’s proposal demonstrates how thoughtful design has the power to transform places and people’s lives, and I’m so pleased that Southwark Council have embraced our vision with such enthusiasm. I’m really looking forward to seeing the transformed Bramcote Park come to life later this year”.

Image below: Bramcote Park, Forest Garden View © Assemble and Local Works Studio 


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