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MacEwen Longlist: Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

An atmospheric and fun response to a new long-term Urban Framework

DSDHA for London Borough of Lambeth 

Location: Vauxhall, London

For the last 17 years, the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens have fought for the welfare of their park, protecting it from the pressures associated with extensive surrounding development. In 2005, the Friends and Lambeth Council commissioned local architects DSDHA to develop a long‐term Urban Framework Plan for the regeneration of the Gardens and environs, which were, until recently, a derelict and poorly maintained wasteland attracting of anti‐social behaviour. The vision behind the framework consisted of improving the fabric of the gardens while making reference to the atmosphere of the historical Pleasure Gardens.

The ultimate objective was to raise awareness and pride of place within the local community, who saw the gardens as a place to pass through rather than enjoy. The Friends actively participated in the extensive consultation process with statutory bodies, local authorities, private enterprises and the local community, as DSDHA generated a viable framework to be delivered in phases, as section 106 funds became available. To date three phases have come to fruition: a new tree‐lined square and sports pitch, a spectacular new entrance to the gardens and, in the last year, the re‐landscaping of a large area in order to improve security, create an external mounded amphitheatre and open up new vistas. Two further phases are in design development with funding actively sought.

The plan and work have been credited with catalysing a cultural renaissance in the area: Damien Hirst’s gallery has now opened nearby and, on the eastern boundary, the Cabinet Gallery is due to open in 2016. Furthermore the Gardens’ regeneration has resulted in an expanding program of free events in the park. Local residents as well as Londoners and tourists flock to such evenings, reasserting the Pleasure Gardens as a place for enjoyment and fun. Thanks to DSDHA’s commitment, the assignment is now extending well beyond the original the brief to challenge Lambeth and TfL’s current proposal for the nearby Vauxhall gyratory.


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