Resilient London: confronting climate change
The Park is the centrepiece of Elephant Park, a revitalisation of Elephant & Castle by Lendlease and Southwark Council, setting new benchmarks in urban living. At two-acres, it’s
an inclusive and sustainable community space featuring expansive lawns, colourful rain gardens, the landmark water playscape, Elephant Springs, and walkways nestled within naturalistic planting. The development aims to be net zero carbon in operation by 2025. A central feature, Elephant Springs is a rocky, water-world of fountains, waterfalls and sandy beaches. Created from 300 tons of Italian porphyry stone, chosen for its hard wearing and slip-resistant properties when wet, Elephant Springs is somewhere for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. Designed by Gillespies, the Park provides a green oasis in London’s zone one where the local community can relax, play, exercise and socialise. It includes 27 retained, mature trees and 19 new trees, chosen for their suitability for conditions, resilience to climate change, and diversity of species to mitigate biosecurity issues and deliver more comprehensive ecological value to the Park. The wider planting strategy has a mix of native and non-native species to maximise diversity and create a spatially complex planting cover that, according to many academic studies, has the most significant impact on supporting biodiversity. The Park’s rain gardens are a vital part of the SUDS strategy, infiltrating surface water runoff from hard paved areas into the underground aquifer rather than overburdening London’s combined sewer system.
Enveloping one of the mature London Plane trees is the Park’s pavilion building. Comprising a community space, café kiosk and publicly accessible elevated terrace, the building is constructed from predominantly low carbon cross laminated timber. Pedestrian and cycle routes connect it to the surrounding areas of Southwark and the public transport network, encouraging green, sustainable methods of travel to and from the area. Retaining the 27 mature, existing trees, has a huge impact
in carbon fixing and storage. Their extensive canopy cools the air, mitigates pollution and provides microclimatic improvements alongside habitats for wildlife. The design focused on maximising planting and reducing hard paving, allowing all opportunities where possible for the carbon sequestering properties of soil. The main paths are paved in self-binding gravel, a material with a lower carbon footprint, and where natural stone paving is used for areas of heavy footfall, such as Elephant Springs, European stone has been selected for its lower shipping impact.