Steeped in history dating back to the 13th century, Christchurch Gardens is in a prime location in central London, close to Parliament Square. Originally a cemetery for St. Margaret’s Church, it holds links with many iconic figures of the past, including Ignatius Sancho and the suffragists. Later a victim of the Blitz, the space became a public garden in the 1950s, but despite its legacy, it has lost its raison d’être in recent years.
A transformation program by Westminster Council and Victoria BID in collaboration with landscape architects ReardonSmith Landscape LLP, engineering consultants WSP and contractors FM Conway sought to breathe new life into Christchurch Gardens as a much-needed green oasis in the heart of the city.
Sensitively designed features and details mark the heritage of the site and underpin the vision of the project. Marshalls worked closely with ReardonSmith Landscape LLP and WSP, to turn this vision into reality.
Custom paver design
Three contrasting Marshalls granites – Silver Tarvos, Gray Prospero and Red Malasana – perfectly represent a uniform series of coffin shapes that provide a striking pattern along the expressways – a tribute to the ancient cemetery.
Marshall’s in-house design team advised on potential weak spots in the corners of geometric shapes and worked with the designer to achieve optimum aesthetics while providing a robust engineering design.
This was flanked by a lovely expanse of Scoutmoor Yorkstone, with other coffin-shaped stone inlays placed at key path junctions, subtly camouflaged in the same material that is still recognizable as the pavement of choice throughout Westminster.
The precise placement of complex parts was not left to chance; The marshals dry laid the sections at the quarry for a full inspection before shipping. This provided valuable assurance that the design would be a perfect fit.
Design for sustainability
True to its promise of becoming a haven of relaxation and enjoyment for local townspeople, the revitalized gardens now offer ample seating set in long strips of Marshalls’ attractive Rosalind granite. Supplied in repeatable units for easy installation, the serpentine wall sections fit together like a real jigsaw.
Rarely intended as aesthetic features in their own right, the deterrent notches for skateboards were meticulously carved into stone as miniature ecclesiastical stone arches that ensured the continuity of the subtle nods to history, even in the smallest unique details.
The final design of the high lengths was achieved through close collaboration between Marshalls and WSP. The 3D modeling software enabled a series of edge and corner finishing refinements and optimizations with significant benefits for durability and aesthetics that were not in the original plan.
Dave Stanger, Commercial Director of Natural Stone, said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to contribute in such a fundamental way not only to the celebration of the fascinating history of a project, but also to the providing essential usable space for communities to enjoy in the future.The unique design features and craftsmanship we have been able to offer are yet another demonstration of the endless possibilities available in natural stone, which will remain for us. many generations to come.
A timely transformation
The transformation of a historic space with such a fascinating past into a dynamic new green space could not have been better planned. Delivered during another period of historical significance in its lifetime, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it now offers a much-needed sanctuary when outdoor space has never been so valued.
Main contractor FM Conway
Countryside architect ReardonSmith Landscape srl
Clients Westminster and Victoria City Council Westminster BID
Marshalls Products Rosalind Granite, Prospero Granite, Tarvos Granite, Malasana Granite, Scoutmoor Yorkstone
To find out more about the unique things we can achieve with natural stone, visit marshalls.co.uk/inspire, where we walk you through our process for bringing your unique concepts to life, and you can see other bespoke projects like this one we helped complete.