Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

The Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens have fought for more than 17 years for the welfare of their park, protecting it from the pressures associated with extensive surrounding development. In 2005 the FoVPG and Lambeth Council commissioned DSDHA to develop a long-term Framework Plan for the regeneration of the Gardens and environs. Once the site of the 18th century world-famous Pleasure Gardens, this public space was, until recently, a derelict and poorly maintained wasteland attracting all manner of anti-social behaviour.

The vision behind the framework consisted of improving the fabric of the gardens while making reference to the atmosphere of the historical Pleasure Gardens. The ultimate objective was to raise awareness and pride of place within the local community, who saw the gardens as a place to pass through rather than enjoy. The FoVPG actively participated in the extensive consultation process with statutory bodies, local authorities, private enterprises and the local community, as DSDHA generated a viable framework to be delivered in phases, as section 106 funds became available. To date, three phases have come to fruition: a new tree-lined square and sports pitch, a spectacular new entrance and, in the last year, the re-landscaping of a large area in order to improve security and create new vistas. The sports pitch—part of the first phase—is very well frequented by local young people and has engendered a healthy competition with a trophy awarded twice a year.

At the new gateway to the park, two monumental columns affirm Vauxhall’s unique qualities, featuring an artwork at the top that, while making reference to the park’s glorious past, celebrates its present. The combination of a strong architectural statement and improved landscaping has not only greatly benefited local residents and their enjoyment of the Gardens, but has attracted the interest of several important art galleries. Furthermore, the Gardens’ re-landscaping and regeneration has resulted in an ever-expanding annual program of free events being staged in the park. Local residents as well as Londoners and tourists flock to such evenings, reasserting the Pleasure Gardens as a place for enjoyment and fun.

DSDHA’s assignment is now extending well beyond the original the brief, and is looking at areas around the perimeter of the Gardens and beyond. Currently, DSDHA is carrying out concept design for public realm improvements to Goding Street—a neglected access road between the re-landscaped park and the railway arches—as the next phase. The scheme will include new paving, planting and lighting and will soften the boundary between the park and the highway. By reducing the predominance of vehicles it is anticipated that businesses within the arches will turn to face the park, providing them with additional frontage and greater footfall.

Moreover, the team has extended the scope of the project and challenged Lambeth and TfL’s current proposal for the nearby Vauxhall gyratory, which currently includes the demolition of the much-loved bus station. This is being achieved through the formation of OurVauxhall, an association of volunteers comprising local residents, businesses, engineers and architects, which has devised an alternative proposal for this very busy traffic interchange. The ambitious, yet viable, scheme places people and cyclists at the fore, by improving Vauxhall’s public realm and creating a major new public space for central London. With significantly less disruption to road users, OurVauxhall’s vision will exceed Lambeth’s current objectives for the area while also creating new public space at the heart of Vauxhall. The transformation of the north part of South Lambeth Road into a greenspace will connect Vauxhall Park with Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, completing the green route planned between Battersea and Nine Elms.

Team:
Architect: DSDHA
Structure Engineer: Structure Workshop
Landscape Architect: David Buck Landscape Architects Ltd
Concrete Specialist: Anthony Thresh, White Rock Engineering
Lighting Design: Enigma Systems
Landscape Contractor: Blakedown Landscape & White Rock
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