Royal Arsenal Riverside is one of South East London’s most exciting riverside addresses, sitting at the heart of Woolwich, which is rapidly emerging as one of London’s bright spots; occupying prime location along the River Thames and offering a buzzing retail hub.

Maribor Park aims to provide a bold, new green space, providing a link between Woolwich Town Centre and the River Thames. The park when fully complete will serve the wider community with extensive opportunities for recreation and play, set within a lush, verdant landscape. The park itself takes the form of a green spine, its linear form reflecting the industrial history of the immediate area and its strong association with the rope making industry. Central to this green spine, is a long, linear water feature, linking the park together visually.

Collaboration is key:

  • Why was Hardscape brought in? Had you worked with the client/contractor/architect before or been involved with other elements of this bigger project this was part of?

A key design component of the water feature was a number of stone inclusions that would direct the water’s flow, act as informal play elements for children and visual elements in their own right. Gillespies, along with Fountains Workshop, settled on Prima Porphyry early on, due to how it reacts with water and the huge amount of character and variety of colour tones.

To achieve the design intent of the team, it was realised early on that each stone would need to be selected individually to ensure we could achieve the narrative across the park that we wanted and ensure the colour and composition of the stones arrangements was just right. Hardscape was brought in at this stage, as they understood the importance of this and were able to facilitate us visiting a quarry, selecting the stones, setting them and managing the tagging of each piece.

  • Were there any specifications that needed to be met – for example; country of origin, permeability, sustainability features, etc.?

They key ones were colour and character. The vision was for the Prima Porphyry pieces to change from smaller oxide/buff pieces in the Source and progress to larger grey/blue pieces in the Delta and Terraces.

  • Were there any interesting/innovative uses of the materials e.g. artwork?

Each stone within the water feature was individually selected and set out on in the quarry to ensure the colour and composition of the stones would achieve our design intent. These were then brought to site, re-set out as in the quarry, and then rejigged on site within the water feature to ensure we were achieving the best possible effect with the stones and water feature itself.

  • How did the choice of hard landscaping material contribute to the finished project?

Without the materials we selected the project simply would not be what it is.

The Prima Porphyry was key to defining the character, look and feel of the Source and act as the element that will ultimately link the park together when it is fully complete.

Challenges

  • What were the main challenges the Client Team faced on this project?

The design team had very specific requirements for the size, look and character of the Prima Porphyry inclusions as noted earlier. Finding a supplier who could allow us to be as involved as we needed be to achieve our design vision was critical to the success of the project.

  • How do you believe Hardscape helped to overcome these challenges?

By giving us access to the specific quarries, allowing us to spend as much time as we needed to select and set-out the stones at the quarry and providing advice along the way on what we would and wouldn’t be able to do with the material, Hardscape was an integral part of the team and the project’s ultimate success.

Results

  • What are the standout features of this project? E.g. was there anything pioneering/innovative about the project?

The design process we used for the water feature was atypical for Gillespies. Rather than doing a set of drawings and then simply having the contractor build off of them, the design team and client worked together throughout the design, procurement and construction process. Design principles and intent were established early on through drawings, mock-ups and models, which were then used to inform what we selected at the quarry and how we composed the selection.

Following that selection we then worked on site with the landscape and water feature contractors to develop the vision further, moving stones, re-arranging pieces and tweaking the water feature. Without this hands-on approach, the quality and character of the project could not have been achieved.

  • Describe the end result and the transformation of the area and any future on-going development that may complement the current project?

The Source provides the first piece of a new, high-quality green space for the residents of Royal Arsenal Riverside and the wider Woolwich neighbourhood. By creating a public space for relaxation, play and delight, it will set the standard for the rest of the Park’s development.

Materials used:

Prima Porphyry (Grey and Violet mix) paving and stepping-stone inclusions for the water feature. Magma and Royal White granite paving.

Client: Berkeley Homes; Landscape Architects: Gillespies; Landscape Contractor: Elite Landscapes; Water Feature Contractor: Fountains DirectWater Feature Designer: Fountains Workshop; Engineers: RSKPaving Materials Supplier: Hardscape