Watford Parade, by BDP, in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. Landscape architects are unique artists, in the sense that they take their creativity to a whole new level, using nature as their most important source of inspiration. Watford Parade is both a successful and ambitious project of landscape architecture, demonstrating that landscape design can be perceived as a form of art. The project was commissioned by the Watford Borough Council and the Hertfordshire County Council, being completed in 2014. With a construction cost of £4.3 million and a site of approximately 15000 m2, the project was successfully brought to light by the talented team from BDP.
The true power of landscape architecture lies in taking an area that has lost its charm and bring it back, in a manner that is more powerful than ever. The Parade was a key element of Watford and this project managed to transform what had become a forgotten area into a key civic space. It was through the talent and hard work of the people at BDP that The Parade became a place for outdoor events, attracting visitors both during the day and night. For this project, BDP organized a complex, interdisciplinary team, with landscape architects, urban designers and numerous other specialists becoming involved. The project was part of a bigger idea, meant to rejuvenate the entire town of Watford and make it attractive all over again. The site of the project was located in the center of the town, being found at a close distance from some of the most important tourist attractions, including the Town Hall, the Colosseum Theatre or the West Herts College.
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Challenges Overcome Through Creativity and Perseverance
In deciding how the project would play out, the team at BDP considered that The Parade would have to become a link between the center of the town and the cultural quarter. However, making such a big change could not come without a set of challenges. The design team had to overcome some preconceived ideas about how the project would turn out in the end. Apart from that, there were some issues related to the movement in the area, especially since the area was going to be used by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles at the same time.
Getting the Public Involved
As this was a project for the people of Watford, the creative brains from BDP got them involved in the whole proceedings. They already knew that the local residents desired the area to become more attractive. Apart from discussing the project extensively with key stakeholders, the team at BDP actually got the public involved in the design process (over 500 members). Moreover, they developed an online consultation tool – this was actually a WordPress site and it kept the public up-to-date with the works.
Strong Principles Make up For a Strong Project
The project was based from the start on the idea of being family friendly. Apart from that, the landscape architects at BDP (together with the rest of the team), expressed an intense desire to connect the cultural quarter with the town center. It was important that The Parade became an area that was both diverse and distinctive, attracting not only local residents but also visitors. Another principle of the project was to improve the movement of both cyclists and pedestrians in the area. It was the intention of the BDP team to create a space that could be used for different events as well, becoming a landmark for the town’s culture and heritage.
Historical Pond, Focal Point of Attention
The large historic pond had been a part of The Parade for over 100 years, being considered an element of identity by the local residents. However, at the start of the project, it was found to be in a poor condition. The quality of the water was disappointing and the filtration system was outdated. It was time for the pond to regain its status, becoming once more a focal point of attention in the center of Watford.In re-designing the pond, the landscape architects intended to activate its edges. They also improved the quality of the water, increasing its overall ecological value. The talented BDP team worked in cooperation with the local library, researching the ways in which the pond was used in the past. Together, they discovered that the pond had a sloped entrance, which was once used for the washing of the cattle. Based on this idea, they create a stepped access to the water, allowing for the direct interaction with the newly-created environment. The pond also received its very first bridge, which increased the attraction for both local residents and tourists. The local wildlife was treated by expert ecologists and the pond was completely drained before entering the renovation phase. The improvement regarded the shape and the size of the pond, as well as the replacement of the filtrating system. The vegetation of the pond was improved and an outdoor dining area was created on the edges of the water. The fish were returned to the newly-designed pond, as well as the local ducks and fowl.
Elegant Event Space For 2000 People
The new event space is perhaps one of the most attractive elements of the park. With a capacity of over 2000 people, it is perfect for large events, having integrated power and lighting. Apart from that, it stands out with its black and white paving, not to mention the raised grass seating areas. There is also a smaller and informal event space to be discovered, being located under mature trees and on a raised timber deck. The event spaces will accommodate some exciting programs in the upcoming part of the year.
Lighting Elements of Superior Quality and Design
The street lighting was upgraded for this project, with the lighting scheme being designed in order to draw visitors in the evening or at night. The illuminated bridge crossing gives out a romantic atmosphere, while the lit fountains and the strip lighting accenting seating complete the picture. The attention of the visitors is captured by the 12 meter high feature columns, equipped with no less than 24 projectors. These projectors are meant to throw a beautiful light over the event space, making it even more attractive.In conclusion, it is great to see the amazing transformation of an urban area and how it has become once more a point of attraction. The Watford Parade can be compared to the mighty Phoenix bird, arising from its ashes. Can you name other projects to have gone through such amazing transformations?
Full Project Credits for Rocafort House
Project name: Watford Parade Location: Watford, Hertfordshire, England Landscape architects: BDP Client: Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council Construction cost: £4.3 million Completed: 2014 Show on Google Maps
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Article by Alexandra AntipaPublished in