New London Architecture

Not just for Show: RHS Chelsea 2021

Thursday 23 September 2021

Andrew McMullan

Director
McMullan Studio

Making modern city life healthier and happier is a key mission of our emerging architecture practice Mcmullan Studio. 

Working with friends of the studio Harris Bugg, we have collaborated on the flagship show garden for M&G, main sponsors of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

The garden is an urban pocket park, designed to highlight the power of small green spaces to improve modern city life. Instead of people making special trips to a big park at weekends, the pocket park is designed to be on their doorstep. It might be next to local shops, at the end of a street, between office buildings or on a housing estate. Visits to the park would become part of daily life; a place to meet neighbours, read a book at lunchtime or play on the way home from school.

The garden imagines an industrial past entwined with the positive benefits of nature. We designed a network of steel pipes that weave playfully in and around the plants and trees. Made from reclaimed metal, the pipes are highly polished to reflect and amplify the planting and constantly changing light from both sky and city. 

Pipes are used to frame views, define different zones, irrigate plants, and improve biodiversity. On a human level, visitors are encouraged to use them for seating and play. It's an example of an everyday object found in cities being transformed into something extraordinary. The result is a sensory experience that offers a much-needed escape from busy urban life.

To ensure our concept brings long-term, real-world benefits beyond the show, the pipe structure was designed to be demountable and reconfigured to suit a permanent location and the specific needs of its surrounding community. Cost-effective, sustainable, and adaptable, the urban pocket park underlines the importance of landscape design and architecture working together in a truly integrated way.

Everything we do at Mcmullan Studio tries to create a balance between the built and natural environment. Connecting with nature improves our physical, mental and economic well-being. 

We believe the survival of our cities depends on creating harmony between the manmade and natural worlds. To achieve this bold yet vital ambition, we need to be brave enough to embrace a radical vision of both city and nature. Successful green spaces must be authentically experienced as belonging to the communities they serve, and we must share these learnings widely to have an impact in our rapidly urbanising world.
Chelsea Flower Show runs until September 26. 

See Mcmullan Studio and Harris Bugg in conversation at The Garden Museum on September 22 at 7PM. 





Andrew McMullan

Director
McMullan Studio



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