Christchurch Gardens, London, SW1H 0AX
Westminster City Council and Victoria Westminster BID
ReardonSmith Landscape LLP
Steeped in history dating back to the 13th Century, Christchurch Gardens sits in a prominent location in central London, close to Parliament Square. Originally a burial ground for St Margaret’s Church, it holds connections to many iconic figures of the past including Ignatius Sancho and the Suffragettes. Later a casualty of the Blitz, the space became a public garden in the 1950s but despite its heritage, lost its purpose over more recent years.
A transformation scheme by Westminster Council and Victoria BID in collaboration with landscape architects ReardonSmith Landscape LLP, engineering consultants WSP and contractors FM Conway, sought to give Christchurch Gardens a new lease of life as a much-needed green oasis in the heart of the city.
Sensitively designed features and details mark the site’s heritage and underpin the vision for the scheme. Marshalls worked closely with ReardonSmith Landscape LLP and WSP, to turn this vision into a reality.
Bespoke paving design
Three contrasting Marshalls granites: silver Tarvos, grey Prospero and red Malasana, perfectly depict a uniform series of coffin shapes which deliver a striking pattern along the sweeping pathways - a tribute to the former burial ground. Marshalls in-house design team advised on potential weak points in the angles of geometric shapes and worked with the designer to achieve an optimum aesthetic whilst providing a robust technical design.
This was flanked by a beautiful stretch of Scoutmoor Yorkstone, with further singular coffin shaped stone inlays placed at key path junctions, subtly camouflaged in the same material which is ever-recognisable as the paving stone of choice throughout Westminster.
Precision laying of the intricate pieces was not left to luck - Marshalls dry-laid the sections at the quarry, for full inspection before dispatch. This provided valuable reassurance that the design would be a perfect fit.
Designing in durability
True to its promise to become a haven for relaxation and enjoyment by local city dwellers, the revitalised gardens now offer ample seating set within long swathes of Marshalls attractive Rosalind granite. Supplied in repeatable units for ease of installation, the sections of the snaking wall slotted together like a real-life jigsaw.
Rarely designed as aesthetic features in their own right, skateboard deterrent notches were meticulously carved into the stone as miniature ecclesiastical stone arches which ensured the subtle nods to history continued in even the smallest of unique details.
The final design for the elevated lengths was arrived at through close collaboration between Marshalls and WSP throughout. 3D modelling software enabled a series of refinements and optimisations to the finish of the edges and corners with significant benefits for durability and aesthetic which were not in the original plan.
Dave Stanger, Natural Stone Trading Director, said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to contribute so fundamentally to not only the celebration of a scheme’s fascinating history, but also the provision of a much-needed usable space for communities to enjoy into the future. The unique design features and craftmanship we have been able to deliver are a further demonstration of the endless possibilities available when it comes to natural stone, which will remain for many more generations to come.”
A timely transformation
The transformation of a landmark space with such a fascinating past in to a new and vibrant, green space could not have been better timed. Delivered during another period of historical significance in its lifetime, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, it now provides a much-needed sanctuary when outdoor space has never been so cherished.
To discover more about the unique things we can achieve with natural stone, visit our Bespoke Inspiration page, where we walk you through our process of bringing your concepts to life, and you can see other bespoke projects like this we have helped complete.