Even brief exposure to nature in the city can relieve stress and help treat attention disorders in children.
London’s population is rising by around 100,000 a year. Over the next decade, the city is likely to grow denser, hotter and more congested, with public realm as the antidote.
We are working on an ambitious project to take historic London streets in some of the busiest, most heavily trafficked parts of the city and reimagine them as relaxing and popular green spaces. It is key to Camden’s work in reducing air pollution and improving health and wellbeing.
Research points to the importance of multi-functional green spaces in cities and how they reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. This is where lives can overlap, combatting loneliness which is as great a threat to health as obesity.
Princes Circus, central London
Whitfield Gardens, off Tottenham Court Road
The West End Project creates 0.7 hectares of new parks, squares and incidental pocket plazas and re-imagines 0.3 hectares of existing space. It aims to improve wellbeing in a number of ways:
The public spaces have been designed as oases of calm, encouraging chance encounters with thoughtful configuration of different types of seating and sunny lounging lawns. Clear and inviting entrances welcome people in. Functional and feature lighting is designed to make the spaces feel just as safe and appealing at dusk and after dark.
There is a real shortage of play spaces in this part of London. At Alfred Place, sculptural seating, stepping stones and climbing structures are designed for incidental play in a well-overlooked environment, encouraging children to hone physical dexterity. An enticing path meanders past colourful borders.
Wherever possible the public spaces have been designed so they can host local events such as cultural celebrations and provide an attractive backdrop for public art projects. Whitfield Gardens, which already hosts the annual Lumiere Festival, will be pop-up ready.
Nature came up in nearly all conversations with the community when consulting on design. Even brief exposure to nature in the city can relieve stress and treat attention disorders in children. The changing seasons will be marked with flower-rich perennial borders and species-rich amenity lawn. There is nature-based sustainable drainage, permeable paving and bird and bat boxes.