Steeling the RHS Flower Show
On the map: Chelsea, London, UK
Core values: Sustainability and Urban Enhancement
Status: Complete, 2021
The story: The studio collaborated on the flagship show garden for M&G, the main sponsors of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021. Working with long-term collaborators Harris Bugg, Mcmullan co-designed its urban pocket park to highlight the power of small green spaces and gardens to improve modern city life. Instead of people making special trips to a big park at weekends, the pocket park is designed to be on their doorstep. For example, next to local shops, at the end of a street, between office buildings or on a housing estate. Visits to the park would become part of daily life; a place to meet neighbours, read a book at lunchtime or play on the way home from school.
The garden imagines an industrial past entwined with the positive benefits of nature. We designed a network of steel pipes that weave playfully in and around the garden’s plants and trees. Made from reclaimed metal, the pipes are highly polished to reflect and amplify the planting and constantly changing light from both sky and city. Pipes are used to frame views, define different zones, irrigate plants and improve biodiversity. On a human level, visitors are encouraged to use them for seating and play. It’s an example of an everyday object found in cities being transformed into something extraordinary. The result is a sensory experience that offers a much-needed escape from busy urban life. To ensure our concept brings long-term, real-world benefits beyond the show, the pipe structure was designed to be demountable and reconfigured to suit a permanent location and the specific needs of its surrounding community. Cost-effective, sustainable and adaptable, the urban pocket park underlines the importance of landscape design and architecture working together in a truly integrated way.