London's Thames Barrier Park
by Don Barker
Thames Barrier Park is the first riverside park to be built in London for over 50 years. Since it opened in late 2000, it has won design accolades from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the American Institute of Architecture (AIA), and most recently, the United Kingdom's Civic Trust Award 2002 for landscape design.
It seems that the park, designed by landscape architects Groupe Signes of Paris and architects Patel Taylor of London, has hit the right notes when it comes to modern landscape design. But its influence stretches far beyond its architectural prowess.
The strategy behind the park came from the now demised London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). Its vision was that public urban park investment should be the catalyst for private development of the surrounding areas. In 1995, the LDDC initiated the two-phase project. Phase one was for the reclamation of a 22-acre (9-hectare) derelict and toxic brownfield site. Phase two was to build an urban park on top of it.
The LDDC established an international design competition with the charge to "successfully address the metropolitan promise of the site as well as the recreational needs of the local population."
A joint effort from Groupe Signes, Patel Taylor, and the engineering firm Arup won the competition. The team was aware that they were not only designing a park, they were setting the scene for the future architectural composition of the area. >>>