Wrapping around the outside of a theatre next to London Bridge station is a linear pocket park that opened in 2015.

The theatre was built in 1975, and until a few years ago, was a dark red brick monolithic block sitting on the corner junction of several roads, and externally, looking about as appealing as an electricity substation.

Running around the edge of the theatre was a linear car park, which hardly helped to dispel the industrial appearance of the building.

So it was that the fashion designer, and founder of the nearby Fashion and Textile Museum, Dame Zandra Rhodes teamed up with garden designer and TV presenter Joe Swift to design a park for plants to replace the park for cars.

The dull brick walls have been painted in Zandra Rhodes trademark shades of orange, pink and blue, while a series of deep planting pots were built along the sides of the building. In places, the wall of planting is broken up into small rooms with seating, and trellises run up the wall between brick columns.

Although most parks are designed to look their best in spring and summer, this one also smells its best in winter with fragrant planting to replace the bright flowers. The steel girders are also decorative rather than structural but were added to create a stronger link between the linear park and the building.

The Greenwood Theatre pocket park was awarded the People’s Choice Award by the Society of Garden Designers in 2016.

The pocket park was the result of a collaboration between Cityscapes, Team London Bridge, King’s College London, Network Rail and Southwark Council, and was funded by the Mayor of London’s Pocket Parks programme.

Maintenance is carried out by locally based homeless charity’ St Mungo’s Broadway ‘Putting Down Roots’ programme, which trains the homeless in horticultural skills as a means to renter the workforce.

The theatre itself was built and is owned by the Charitable Foundation of Guy’s Hospital following donations from Sir James Mantle Greenwood, and is these days leased by King’s College London for lectures, student productions and external bookings.

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One comment
  1. Terry Jones says:

    Sometimes small changes can make a huge difference. Great community involvement too.

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