The Park within Elephant Park

Elephant and Castle, London, UK

The Park within Elephant Park

The Park at the centre of Elephant Park is a spectacular green oasis at the heart of the ground-breaking revitalisation of Elephant & Castle by Lendlease and Southwark Council. The park is an inclusive and sustainable community space offering everyone unforgettable social and recreational experiences and an opportunity to slow down and connect with nature.

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The park is the centrepiece of the Elephant Park Masterplan, an ambitious regeneration project by Lendlease and Southwark Council that is breathing new life into Elephant and Castle. The landmark project will deliver 300 new homes, 50 shops, restaurants, and cafes with 11 acres of thoughtfully designed public spaces, including the brand new park.

Gillespies is the public realm masterplanner for the entire Elephant Park development and the landscape architect for several plots, including the new centrepiece park.

At 2-acres, the Park provides a green haven in London’s zone one where the local community can relax, play, exercise and socialise. Comprising large lawns, rain gardens, pedestrian walkways nestled within naturalistic planting and the landmark water playscape, Elephant Springs, the Park plays a crucial role in combatting climate change, providing new habitats for wildlife, managing rainwater, and creating a healthier environment for everyone.

The Park has been designed to deliver a year-round, multi-sensory experience. The incorporation of rain gardens ensures the urban site can mimic the natural water cycle and reduce its reliance on the surrounding networks. The rain gardens are designed to consider future extreme climate change affected rainfall intensities and 100-year frequency storm events. The gardens provide pockets of colour, height, texture and scent, igniting all the senses and attracting wildlife, including bees, birds and butterflies.

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.

A fundamental aspect has been retaining 27 mature, existing trees, recognising their important role in carbon fixing and storage. Their extensive canopy cools the air, mitigates pollution and provides microclimatic improvements alongside habitats for wildlife. 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 team undertook a design-led and participative approach to the Park's design. Creating a Park Advisory Group with representatives from the Client, Local Authority, and designated community members have ensured that the Park is flexibly designed and built to last. Extensive public consultation informed the Park's brief, helping to instil a sense of ownership from the existing communities.

The quality of the design, diversity of users, and proximity to transport links is already attracting visitors from far and wide, increasing investment in the area and adding to its already rich culture. Surrounded by a unique mix of local and independent restaurants, cafes and shops, the Park truly caters for the broad diversity and demographic of Elephant & Castle.