A refurbished pocket park recently opened close to St Paul’s Cathedral and is notable now for a large polished reflection pond that gives photographers reflections of the cathedral in the still water.
At least that’s the theory, but what about during a heatwave when all water features are turned off?
Well, you are left with a curious structure in the middle of the park, looking not unlike a giant stone wall with a dark void in the middle. It could just as easily be modern art instead of a drained reflection pool.
Prior to the park’s refurbishment and the arrival of the (not) reflection pond, the pocket park was mainly a large open lawn surrounded by bushes and trees. The bushes and trees remain, but the lawn has been removed and replaced with pockets of bedding plants and in the centre, the waterless pond. The ground is now gravel instead of grass. but seasonal planting – responding to changing climate conditions – plus flowering species, bird and bat boxes and insect hotels will improve biodiversity.
In normal times, the reflection pool is supposed to also provide urban cooling, but not during a drought.
More seating has been added around the edges to compensate for the loss of lawn, with the new benches matching the somewhat sculpted wings of the older design.
Overall, the loss of the lawn for sitting on is a shame, but wide slabs of monoculture lawns are rightly out of fashion in our more biodiverse aware times, and putting in an “insta friendly” water feature means far more people are likely to seek the park out than just walk past it uncaring.
The new design was a collaboration between the City of London, international real estate company Pembroke and landscape design practice Tom Stuart-Smith. The Reflection Garden forms part of a refurbishment of 25 Cannon Street by Pembroke, alongside new retail and hospitality space, which was approved in 2020. Thanks to the public garden and new roof terrace, the Urban Greening Factor has been raised from 0.29 to 0.49.