London, United Kingdom | 2013- | On site
Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s landscape design at Buckingham Green creates a new high-quality public realm adjacent to three refurbished buildings that together comprise a 230,000sqft mixed-use scheme, situated at the edge of St James’s and close to Westminster Abbey.
Working within a challenging site formed of complex geometries, the existing ground plane is dominated by visual clutter and bounded by a disparate collection of buildings. The redevelopment lead by Fletcher Priest Architects remodels three existing buildings (keeping to the original building footprints) and removes a building extension from the mid-1970s between two of the towers. New restaurant, cafes and retail at ground level will enhance a lively public realm, with the removal of the building extension creating improved connectivity and accessibility across the public realm. An updated roof gardens provides outdoor space for occupants of the office towers.
Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s design draws inspiration from the appearance and placement of the existing and proposed buildings on site. Where the design for an existing tower paid homage to Mies van der Rohe’s architectural vision, the redevelopment of the buildings by Fletcher Priest Architects and our new landscape proposal enhances the building by extending this vision in a more complete and refined form.
The irregular placement of buildings on the site results in a theme of jaunted angles and varied assembly of styles and palettes. To unify the composition of new and existing buildings, reference is made to the early-20th century painter Kazimir Malevich. Where his paintings play with the rich variations of tones and textures of a colour to create a rich, warm palette that suggests infinite space, Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s loose placement of abstract shapes in contrasting coloured stone with skewed and off-centre positions gives the illusion of subtle movement and directionality, thus mediating the difficult angles of the buildings.
Paying homage to Mies van der Rohe’s architecture, the office roof garden uses a raised stone paved platform that appears to float above the ground; and highly decorative stone for long linear stone benches which double up as planters. Lines of multi-stemmed native birch trees are backed by a native hedgerow, and underplanted by white, blue and purple flowering woodland planting. Bird boxes complete a more sustainable vision of the remodelled roof garden.
The use of high-quality materials creates a unity across the private and publicly-maintained spaces within the development. These comprise the use of Pennant sandstone and Welsh Brathay slate for paving, and bronze-coated street furniture such as handrails, cycle racks and litter bins. A mature trees is placed to mark the axes of the site and allows for an uninterrupted pedestrian environment.