Lendlease’s Elephant Park is set to deliver 2,500 new homes in Elephant & Castle between now and 2025, as well as 50 shops, restaurants and cafes and a brand new park right in the heart of the scheme. Elephant Park’s public realm in general, and its park area in particular, will be key to the relationship between the development and its surrounding communities: the park is a public facility as well as a public access pathway. It therefore has both practical and symbolic importance in managing sense of ownership and access, inter-community relations and the social meaning of the development as a whole. It can therefore be consequential for social issues that the development may face in the future. Conversely, the park is an important local amenity with various consequences for the well-being of diverse stakeholders (security and safety; access to leisure space; local conviviality and sociability; atmosphere, aesthetics and identity). The ‘Achieving Publicness’ study of the Configuring Light team aims to better understand the factors that will produce and maintain Elephant Park as an open access public realm space by doing stakeholder research and continuously feeding research findings back to the design team.
Most broadly, the research will investigate how a new urban park fits into the wider area both physically and within people’s mental maps of the area, identifying diverse potential users and stakeholders and the way in which the park impacts them. The research will specifically address potential uses of the space, perceptions of the space, and how the space fits into patterns of use, movement and orientation in the area. We will also direct a social research focus on to the ecological, infrastructural and biodiversity dimensions of Elephant Park by looking at the aspects of urban nature that are perceived and valued by diverse potential users.