East Square Urban Garden
Liz Lake Associates was appointed to prepare a detailed Public Realm Appraisal and Strategy Report for Basildon Town Centre to help deliver a new vision for its public realm as part of the biggest regeneration project in the UK in 2012. The dramatically sunken plaza of East Square is located in the heart of the town centre and comprises a largely intact set piece design from the early 1960s. East Square was originally designed as an integral part of the concept for the imposing 14-storey residential block of Brooke House and the squares key features (steps, ramp, flint retaining wall and railings) comprise part of its Grade 2 listing. East Square currently lacks sufficient activity to be really animated; it lacks a focus and features poor quality paving and street furniture.
East Square was originally designed as an integral part of the concept for the imposing 14-storey residential block of Brooke House and the Square’s key features, steps, ramp, flint retaining wall and railings, comprise part of its Grade 2 listing. East Square currently lacks sufficient activity to be really animated; it lacks a focus and features poor quality paving and street furniture. Drawing on its extensive experience in public realm projects, Liz Lake Associates prepared an early concept design for an urban garden as a CGI (computer generated image) to inform the Master Plan proposals. This illustrated the existing buildings on two sides of the Square which were to be replaced with a new cinema and shops. The Square was to be increased in size making space for the proposed urban garden, providing an oasis of green in the centre of the town, reflecting public consultation responses that have consistently called for more greenspace in the town centre. Recognising the importance of post-war design, the key themes for the proposals are to conserve and be sensitive to the setting of the existing heritage asset and to re-animate the original 60s vision, transforming the Square into an exciting place for the 21st century. The design rationale was to break down the scale and hard expanse of the space whilst encouraging more intimate spaces and a café culture to spill out onto the Square. The proposed urban garden included inclined lawn planes, a border of scented planting and seating focusing on the central plaza pavement fountains. The detailing responded positively to the original features and the context of the Square.
The initial work encouraged debate in the community and refined the brief further for this high-profile public realm project. Liz Lake Associates is currently looking at a new high-level design for the Square, working with urban designers Urban Edge.