Public open space to Flats Complex Walthamstow


New flats with central open space

Wates Construction & East Thames Group

Levitt Bernstein

Hard and Soft design to Public Open Space including Play equipment


The architecture of the site saw three 4-5 story buildings set in a south facing horseshoe configuration with the open amenity space in the centre.

A clear brief was set out by East Thames & Waltham Forest Council to address a number of issues including water conservation, predicted desire lines across the open space, durability of materials, soil depths and shade cast by the buildings.

South facing, the park is subject to shading from the apartments above.  The BRE Trust (Building Research Establishment) Site Layout Planning for Daylight & Sunlight guide to good practice, was used to create a shading model of the park to determine the hours of available sunlight as well as highlighting areas that would be shaded in the morning or the afternoon. This informed the planting design which saw species selection depending on location and the available sunlight.

As the amenity space is essentially a roof garden constructed over the concrete structural slab roof of the under croft parking, the weight of soil and hard landscape materials was required to be as light as possible. Trees were planted in root friendly raised planters to increase the soil depths, holes cut into the planter structure allowing roots of the trees to spread horizontally into adjacent soil to form a healthy root plate.

Water conservation was achieved through the use of a permeable paving system which allows water to penetrate through the hard surface into the soil. The drainage build up over the roof slab also retained a 25mm depth of water available for take up by plants, reducing the need for watering and conserving natural resources.

Another challenge was that of movement of residents through the space. Due to the nature of the built form and location within existing pedestrian routes, desire lines were predicted to come from the north, south, east and west creating a matrix of possible routes. Through design experimentation and consultation with the council a simple path design was agreed that offered access north to south and east to west without compromising the fluidity of the space.

The absence of fenced play zones presented the park with a greater sense of shared space for all, with young children, parents and teenagers able to use the whole park rather than feeling limited to their user areas. The combination of ‘rooms’ within the design are all open to one another with play equipment designed to offer a running route from room to room with jumping, spinning and balancing activities to be played out along the way.