Press Release 09.06.2021

A spectacular new rock and watery landscape unveiled in Elephant Park

Gillespies has designed an exemplary community park at the heart of the visionary Elephant Park development in London’s Elephant and Castle.

At just over 2-acres, the spectacular park, which officially opened this month, will serve as the green ‘centrepiece’ for Elephant Park, the landmark revitalisation of Elephant and Castle by Lendlease and Southwark Council. At its heart sits Elephant Springs, a unique watery landscape that feels very much a part of the natural landscape.

Spearheaded by Gillespies in collaboration with Mel Chantrey of Fountain Workshop, Elephant Springs is an imaginative play space constructed of high-quality Porphyry stone sourced from a quarry in the Albiano region of Italy. The colourful stone is layered to mimic 2.3-metre-high rocky outcrops and completed with water streams, pumps and activated jets that provide children with an opportunity to play, learn and get lost in the wonder of nature and water. Elephant Springs will extend far beyond a place for children to play, offering a relaxing and playful space for adults to reconnect with nature.

Gillespies was briefed to create a highly sustainable, multifunctional public space that would be the ‘heart and jewel in the crown of the development’ and deliver a rich spectrum of beautiful and highly sustainable spaces for the community to enjoy.

The practice – who is also the public realm masterplanner for the regeneration of the overall site and the public realm and landscape designer for South Gardens, West Grove, East Grove and Sayer Street – has placed health, well-being, and sustainability at the heart of the landscape narrative. Everything in Elephant Park is designed with biodiversity in mind, from the grass and trees specified to the bat and bird boxes that sit within the naturalistic rain gardens that will reduce flooding and attract a plethora of wildlife to the area.

The park has been designed and constructed across two phases to reinforce Lendlease’s commitment to delivering unparalleled and immediate access to healthy and inclusive green spaces. The first phase opened to the public in August 2017 and offered a small but well-crafted community space with temporary play features, lawn spaces, trees, and pocket gardens, providing plenty of opportunities for play, walking, exercise, relaxation, and socialising.

The completion of the second phase has increased the amount of green space with additional lawn space, pockets of vibrant planting, trees, and natural play areas. Other elements include a network of accessible paths that will direct people through and around the edges of the park, areas of open seating and swathes of rain gardens that hug the perimeter. Vibrant cafes and restaurants positioned around the park will define the public space and activate the park.

Perhaps, above all else, the new park celebrates the existing mature trees that are a legacy and living memory of the former Heygate Estate. The park houses 19 new trees and 27 existing mature trees, with one mature tree expertly lifted and relocated to a new location in the park.

Gillespies Partner for Elephant Park, Armel Mourgue, said: "Elephant Springs sits at the heart of this landmark regeneration project, nestled in an ever-expanding central park that saw the first phase open in 2017 before any of the buildings. Our landscape-led approach created very early on a destination for relaxing walks, playful times and essential human interaction. The new phase will see all these activities expand into a much larger park, where unforgettable moments of play and water are revealed amongst a landscape of rain gardens, pockets of lawns and groups of existing and new trees."

Lendlease’s Project Director for Elephant Park, Kristy Lansdown, said: “We are all aware that forming connections with nature is hugely beneficial for people’s mental and physical wellbeing. We wanted to create somewhere, in the heart of London’s zone one urban environment, which enabled people to step back from their busy lives, to play and to relax. The space has been inspired by feedback from the community and our commitment to sustainable outcomes to create a unique natural environment that will delight people of all ages. In this post-Covid world, being outdoors has become more important than ever before, and we’re proud to have created a green oasis for everyone to enjoy and hope the community will be proud of it too.”

The £2.5bn Elephant Park regeneration project by Lendlease and Southwark Council will set a new standard in green city living, delivering around 3000 new sustainable homes together with high-quality workspaces, shops, cafes and restaurants. The development is arranged across five distinctive neighbourhoods and connected by 11-acres of high-quality public realm, consisting of open green spaces, private gardens, tree-lined streets and a brand new central park.

Project Team:

Client: Lendlease
Engineer: Buro Happold
Water feature designer: The Fountain Workshop
Lighting Designer: Spiers and Major
Arboriculturalist: Treework Environmental Practice