This is an elevated pocket park next to London Wall that’s both open to visit, but sufficiently off the obvious routes so hardly known.
It actually sits astride part of the aspirational failure that was the 1960s Pedway network, designed to create a series of elevated walkways around the City to avoid road traffic.
That idea never took off, with bits built here and there, and for a few years this part of the walk was itself a dead-end, so no one came up here. Then the pedways got a renaissance, a new bridge links either side of London Wall, and what was an empty paved courtyard is now a delightful park.
It’s also technically part of the office block next door, but open to the public to use.
The original building consisting of the Tower and Podium structure was constructed between 1962 – 1963 by Wates, and refurbished in 1984. Throughout that, the podium space remained a rather empty area to get from here to there, some planting and wooden benches, but nothing to make you want to stop.
However, another revamp of the building in 2012 saw the garden added, turning windswept emptiness into pleasing places to sit and relax.
The design of the area is based on a landscape strategy prepared by Farrer Huxley Associates who tracked how people used the old space, and proposed the design that’s there today.
In addition to the considerably increase planting and seating spaces, they’ve also spread the design around the corner which used to be totally devoid of anything, so the usable space is about a third more than it was before. That also means the planting is visible from street level as well, where before it was just a plain balustrade.
Long lings of elevated planting provide the equally long lengths of stone borders that ever-so-coincidentally provides lots of seating space.
The use of tall planting around the centre was deliberate, to deal with a wind problem on the site so that it’s not to annoying for people sitting here. They’ve also put some benches inside sheltered canopies for those who want to sit outside on very windy days.
A “meeting room” also exists around the corner, although being right next to London Wall road means conversations might be a struggle.
There used to be a restaurant on the podium as well, Young Bean, but the lack of interest in the location meant it wasn’t popular and closed down. The new space allows for a coffee hut, and considering that it’s a much more enjoyable space to visit, that might be added one day.
Although the design is possibly a bit too similar to other gardens that are popping up after being “modernised”, they have done a remarkable job in turning a place to avoid into a place to visit, linger even.
Article last updated on July 25th, 2021 at 09:38 am