‘Publicness’ in Elephant Park

Lendlease’s enormous Elephant Park development includes a new park at its centre. Since 2015, CL has been tracking whether it is on track to be a public park for Southwark stakeholders
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Configuring Light/Staging the Social_Achieving ‘Publicness’ in Elephant ParkElephant 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, over three phases of research (2015-16, 2018 and 2019) we have investigated 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 specifically addresses potential uses of the space, perceptions of the space, and how the space fits into patterns of use, movement and orientation in the area.