The derelict Flagstaff military complex at the Colchester Garrison occupies the southern half of the historic site of St John’s Benedictine Abbey. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and includes the archaeological remains of Britain’s only Roman Circus.
The complex is part of a larger area that has been granted outline planning permission for a new ‘Urban Village’ comprising residential and mixed-use development. Relying on Liz Lake Associates' extensive experience in both residential landscape design and working on heritage assets, the brief from the client was to prepare proposals for a ‘design led’ residential scheme for both the conversion of existing buildings and new build with contextually appropriate landscape proposals for a new Public Open Space associated with the sections of the Roman Circus that are not built over.
Through the use of appropriate hard landscape materials, the landscape design devised by Liz Lake Associates focuses attention on the remnants of the footprint of the Circus and its central section, the Spina. As a general strategy, the surrounding hard surface treatments have been designed to be either a darker colour or a different texture from those used to delineate the Circus, ensuring that it is clearly defined and has visual prominence within the public realm.
A three-coloured multi-concrete block paving product has been chosen which replicates the colours of Roman terracotta bricks, tiles and lime mortar. These are a close colour match with Kent Ragstone, a building material used by the Romans in the construction of the Circus. These three colours are evident in the remains of the Roman town wall and other Roman remains throughout the town and provide a sign to the origin of the Circus on the ground.
Between edging rows of granite setts, the footprint of the central Spina is to be defined with a slightly raised lightly mounded lawn. The three coloured multi-block paving will be used to define the outline of the Spina as it crosses the adoptable highway.
Liz Lake Associates was part of an extensive consultation process, after which a design was agreed with stakeholders which formed part of a detailed planning application submitted in autumn 2013. Building work is due to commence later in 2015.