London’s first Floating Pocket Park opens to the public today at Merchant Square in Paddington. The new 730 sq m floating park in Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal provides a striking green public space on the water with its own canal boat mooring.
Developer European Land and Property Limited commissioned acclaimed garden designer Tony Woods of Garden Club London to create the new park at the heart of Merchant Square, complementing the canal-side neighbourhood’s award-winning public realm, and strengthening its commitment to providing innovative ways for the local community to connect through the use of outdoor space.
Andrew Scrivener, Chief Executive at European Land, said:
“It’s incredibly exciting to see the Floating Pocket Park completed and to have this wonderful new outdoor space at Merchant Square. The floating park is the first of its kind in London, providing green space for workers and residents and creating an oasis in the West End, offering all Londoners a way to actively reconnect with the canal.”
The Floating Pocket Park features an open lawn area, densely planted mixed raised borders and communal seating. The design allows people to walk over the water on a series of decked platforms and walkways. Planting has been designed to sit comfortably with the more formal arrangements around the site and introduces softer textural herbaceous plants and grasses as ornamental centrepieces.
The main areas of the garden are planted with a mix of wind tolerant grasses that will become animated in the breeze and nectar-rich flowers such as Allium and Salvia. The garden boasts an independent wildlife island planted with native waterside plants including Great Burnet, Purple Loosestrife and Yellow Flag Iris to encourage birds and waterfowl to feed and nest.
The park forms part of the Greater London Authority’s ‘green infrastructure’ – an ongoing initiative to improve and connect streets, squares, parks, and canal and riverside spaces across London. The project has also received endorsement from Westminster City Council and the Canal and River Trust.
A contemporary shelter provides support for plants and shade for visitors as well as the opportunity for events. The park has a capacity for 120 visitors and will enhance Merchant Square’s already popular programme of activities and attract London-wide partnerships.
The design of the park has always had occupiers and residents in mind, with the estate’s super-fast free Wi-Fi available to encourage mobile working and meetings out of the office environment. The recent launch of GoBoat at Merchant Square reinforces this enthusiasm to provide interesting work and social spaces. These self-drive electric boats are available to hire for up to 8 people and can be used to explore Paddington, Camden and Little Venice by water, or act as unique floating meeting rooms to encourage innovative and creative thinking.
Former Royal Horticultural Society Young Garden Designer of the Year and Gold medallist Tony Woods, who led the design, commented:
“Working to design the Floating Pocket Park has been a hugely exciting challenge, not only is this a truly one of a kind garden for London but a huge re-think of the way that we create public space in urban areas.”
The Floating Pocket Park will complement existing urban design interventions including award-winning pedestrian bridges and a popular programmable water maze. It forms part of Merchant Square’s overall commitment to its residents and corporate tenants to create a sustainable and connected community. The neighbourhood is linked physically with excellent transport infrastructure, digitally, socially and by a sense of shared knowledge and learning.