Connecting a new community
Located in London’s Elephant and Castle, this project features a new high-end residential development and the largest park created in the city for 70 years. The development will create almost 3,000 new homes on the site of the former Heygate estate, as well as the new public realm that will provide open, green space for residents and visitors.
BuroHappold Engineering joined the project team to deliver design proposals for the permanent and interim parklands. Our role was primarily to produce an updated strategy for the utilities, transport and servicing for the wider estate. We were also commissioned to create a detailed digital infrastructure design for the public realm.
The client’s main requirement was to deliver high quality public spaces, while ensuring the infrastructure design maximised the value of the site. The majority of the utilities infrastructure is being built in advance, with the rest of the development delivered in phases, so we also needed to devise an infrastructure plan that provided an element of flexibility to allow for any future design changes.
A significant challenge for our team was the site’s location in central London, with constraints including existing utilities, numerous trees, a Transport for London road and other transport links, all of which impacted on the project. In turn this meant we also needed to coordinate with a number of different stakeholders, including utility companies and local authority departments.
Our team was also responsible for producing revised transport, servicing and access proposals for the plots still under development. In order to achieve this we needed to carry out a review of the existing scheme alongside emerging proposals to ascertain the solution that would add the most value.
Another element of the project was the need to provide free Wi-Fi to the new park. We needed to design infrastructure that would offer reliable coverage, as well as providing connectivity for CCTV. Finally, our team was tasked with undertaking a review of the security threats and risks in relation to crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour that might impact on the Elephant Park site.
To support the client in delivering a high quality public realm, we completed utility scenario testing early in the design stages. This allowed them to make informed decisions about the project’s potential and possible costs. We also created utilities guidelines so that infrastructure constraints for each plot are clear before the concept design was undertaken.
In order to achieve the client’s ambitions of delivering an environmentally conscious project, we have designed a number of sustainable drainage features that treat and reduce storm water runoff. These include several bio-retention features in the park that discharge a proportion of the storm water into the ground water, reducing reliance on the ageing Thames Water infrastructure, which is currently running at close to full capacity. Due to space constraints within central London, installing this kind of drainage system is unique in the city.
Typical for a large-scale inner city development, the Elephant Park scheme needed to overcome the overstretched utilities network. Further demonstrating the importance that close communication with stakeholders had during this project, our team secured suppliers for long term provision of electricity and heating, reducing the risk for our client. We have been instrumental in reviewing demand for the masterplan as it evolves, ensuring all elements align.
Our transport team analysed the transport proposals to ascertain where additional value could be achieved. This included looking at the impacts associated with change of land use, reduced car parking provision and pedestrianisation of some areas of the site. We were able to demonstrate how incorporating these solutions would create a better environment for the community and increase potential revenue. We also devised a successful design for deliveries, servicing and waste collection, overcoming the site’s challenging combination of commercial and residential uses.
We undertook a market-study on public realm Wi-Fi and digital signage, engaging vendors from across the UK and globally who would suit this prestigious development. By carefully selecting the correct products we have managed to avoid duplication in hardware, software and maintenance costs, offering significant benefits for all stakeholders. We were able to select high performance products that will secure maximum return on investment, while also putting in place vital safeguarding procedures to protect them as providers of free Wi-Fi to the public realm.
By considering all the needs of the project, from its multiple stakeholders through to the sites’ changing requirements, our team was able to put robust and informed plans in place to contribute to its success. This versatile and community-minded project will focus on enhancing the already thriving Elephant and Castle, bringing together people and place to create a unique and diverse location in the centre of the capital city. Our work has supported this project in becoming a meeting place for the 21st Century – marrying green, open space with the best technology has to offer.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply