Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
- Categories Arts & Culture, Urban & Landscape
- Clients London Borough of Lambeth, Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
- Project Team Deborah Saunt, David Hills, Martin Pearson, Tom Greenall, Laura Virto Martinez, Michael O'Hanlon, Sam Potter, Simone Renfer, Eleanor Alexander
For nearly two decades, the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (FoVPG) have defended this historically significant park, protecting it from the pressures arising from the huge scale of development that surrounds it. 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 had become a derelict and poorly maintained wasteland, attracting anti-social behaviour and not addressing the needs of the local community.
The vision behind the framework focused on improving the fabric of the park while celebrating the indulgent atmosphere of the historical Pleasure Gardens, in order to raise awareness and pride of place. To date, five phases have come to fruition: a new tree-lined square and sports pitch; a spectacular new entrance next to the grade II listed Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT); the remodelling of the mounds to create a landscaped amphitheatre at the centre of the park; new path infrastructure, including a ‘Cherry Tree Walk’; and pedestrianisation of the former turning head adjacent to the Tea House Theatre to create a new area of public space.
At the new gateway to the park, two monumental columns affirm Vauxhall’s unique qualities, making reference to the park’s past and celebrating its present. The columns are purposely forceful and demand attention, as if insisting that the passers-by lift their eyes from their smartphone screens and be present and aware of their surroundings.
The combination of a strong architectural statement and improved landscaping has not only greatly benefited the locals and their enjoyment of the Gardens, but has also placed the park at the heart of Vauxhall's emerging art gallery district as well as being the focus for an ever-expanding annual program of free events, including the annual RVT Sports Day. Local residents, Londoners and tourists flock to such evenings, reasserting the Pleasure Gardens as a place for enjoyment and escape.
DSDHA’s assignment is now to look at areas around the perimeter of the Gardens and beyond, such as carrying out concept designs for public realm improvements to Goding Street – a neglected access road between the re-landscaped park and the railway arches – as the next phase. 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, as well as adding positive overlooking to the public space.
At a broader scale, we have been part of OurVauxhall, an association of volunteers comprising local residents, businesses, engineers and architects, which has devised alternative proposals to the very busy traffic interchange that dominates the centrte of Vauxhall. 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 exceeds current plans for the area, while also creating new public space and extending the Nine Elms linear park with the transformation of South Lambeth Road into a greenspace connecting Vauxhall Park with Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
Architecture and Landscape: DSDHAStructure Engineer: Structure Workshop
Concrete Specialist: Anthony Thresh, White Rock Engineering
Lighting Design: Enigma SystemsLandscape Contractor: Blakedown Landscape & White Rock
- Collaborators Martin Richman
- Photography Dennis Gilbert, Edward Simpson (DSDHA Alumni)