• Co-design your Place

Case study: Elephant and Castle Park x LCC

Written by Zuzanna Milancej and Fanxi Zhou



Introduction


Since the ages of the Roman Empire, Elephant Park has been an important asset to the Elephant and Castle area through transport junctions to markets, throughout the ages. This park is situated behind the infamous Elephant and Castle railway station and tracks. The park is currently owned by Lendlease since 2010, leading to the partnership between Lendlease and Southwark Council where £2.3 billion was put into the regeneration process of the park. (Lendlease, 2020)

Elephant and Castle has a long charming history. It was seen as “Piccadilly of the South” and a city centre in past years. And also been influenced by the strong Latin culture. Though it is not that obvious today, the spirit still retains.(Elephant and castle partnership)

Youth brings new energy to here. The culture has been strengthened greatly because of the two universities here. New arrivals and students have brought youthful and fresh blood and create a positive and energetic atmosphere.

For the future plan, Elephant and castle park are trying to build more and more connections between the area and residents. The elephant park development has been seen as the heart of the process.(Elephant and castle partnership)


Objective


The park’s development is an aid to create more livable areas and regenerate the Elephant and Castle area in a way to change its reputation. Key aspects of the regeneration is to give more opportunities to the local people as well as create 6,000 new jobs. The park will also revive the area and make living and visiting more pleasant, with an estimated 3,000 new homes of which 25% are affordable housing. It will also be the first Climate Positive development in London. The process is estimated to be completed in 2025, leaving the park to be the largest new green area in London for 70 years. (Lendlease, 2020) At the moment, a lot of people in the area don’t know about the park or have never been. This is an issue that has been attempted to battle. By bringing projects about the park into the local area, more and more people seem to know about it but don't go. The users of the park in theory should be the local people in the area such as the residents of the get-living buildings (Mawes House, Porchester House, etc.) as well as people who live around there. Another user of the park could be UAL students, as the park is in very close proximity to the university itself. The stakeholders of the park and regeneration process would be all the local businesses around the park who rely on customers in the area to keep their business, as well as Lendlease who are now building many buildings around the park. Having a park within walking distance to your potential house increases the chances of buying the house, which furthermore, can help regenerate the whole area of Elephant and Castle. However, due to the regeneration of the area and the park, Elephant and Castle will become a more expensive place to live. Therefore a lot of local businesses will no longer be able to function, leaving a lot of people without jobs, leading to the conflict between the local people who have been living and functioning in the area for a long time and the new development building businesses.


People in this area


As the living space and work opportunities rise, more and more people choose to live here and work here. Residents, students, businessmen, builders and service providers influence and interact with each other and that generates the positive atmosphere here.




Though, there is still some conflict in this neighbourhood. From our interviews we found that:

Old people complained, “I feel there are too many young people here.” “ I think it's a bit narrow here, everyone needs their own space.”

Students thought that “For me, I cannot feel very connected to this space. I don't even notice there is some interesting history here.”


For old residents, youth and fresh people mean uncertainty as well, they cannot be open enough to accept every change here. But for young students, they don't have a strong relationship with Elephant & Castle, they hope that there is a chance to be familiar with the place. On the other hand, rebuilding the old shopping centre needs to handle many problems such as persuade the shop owner and Latin culture lover.


So, regenerating this area really needs to find a balance between different people, different lifestyles, different needs. Nevertheless, accepting different cultures and past history.


Places and functions in the park

Elephant sculpture:


There are many decorated elephant sculptures that make this park full of art and colour. Elephant sculptures also highlight the history of local culture and place names.



Art walls/ Ads walls

Some parts of this park are under construction. The builder turned the fence into a wall of art and advertising.








Landscape lights

The lights gives people a good feeling. It decorates the park at night and also provides lighting for pedestrians. Some interviewees said that when they pass by these lights at night, they will feel good and warm.






Play area


It‘s not easy to find a green area in this busy elephant and castle. Children even find it more difficult to have a place to meet and play together. There is no doubt that the elephant park has a significant role in people’s family and leisure life.



The Walked line

To expand and connect with the local neighbourhood, Walked elephant is a community initiative to improve walking routes around the park. It also connected with the railways and railways shops.









Key regeneration project


London College of Communication has been involved in a co-design session for the Elephant and Castle park in 2019. A set of students created service designs using interviews, key insights, co-creation and ideation processes to include different aspects of the local community such as LCC students, over 60’s, communities such as the Latino community etc. From the interviews, the students’ key insights were that there were not enough places around the area to be able to sit for free and be social as well as shelter in the park from the weather as London is a rainy place. There also had to be an element of play to the final designs. Using this, 3 different projects were created and tested out with the target user.



(Navaes, Sorour, Bendaravicius, & Ding, 2019)









(Min, Digby, Karol, & Yutong, 2019









(Garreaud, et al., 2019)







Conclusion


Elephant and Castle Park is a key area for the local community who have lived without green areas for years. The once buzzing with community area has to be regenerated and most importantly advertised as a social point for the local communities to use and visit on a daily basis. Completing the constructions is not enough for E&C Park as it is hidden behind the railway and buildings, making it a quiet space, yet one that is locked away from the public. Therefore there needs to be a point of attraction to the park for people to come, recognise and spread the word about the local park. I believe that through the co-design sessions held in 2019 some interesting ideations were created and hopefully, this will be further explored once the constructions are finished.


Bibliography


Elephant and Castle Partnership. (n.d.). Plans and the Future. Retrieved from Elephant and Castle Partnership: https://www.elephantandcastle.org.uk/better-place-walk/

Garreaud, M., Hicken, N., Tsai, C. Y., Gao, C., Ishan, & Lyu, R. (2019). Future Elephant Park. London.

Lendlease. (2020). 10 KEY FACTS ABOUT ELEPHANT PARK. Retrieved from Elephant Park: https://www.elephantpark.co.uk/about-elephant-park/

Min, Digby, Karol, & Yutong. (2019). Elephant Park. London.

Navaes, D., Sorour, G., Bendaravicius, J., & Ding, Y. (2019). Elephant park & LCC Students. London.



Zuzanna Milancej


I am an LCC student doing Illustration and Visual Media BA. I am originally from Poland but have lived and grown up in Dubai. My practice is illustrating digitally and relief printing. Applying my skills to service design is interesting, and I think it works well.


Fanxi Zhou


I am now studying MA Service Design at London College of Communication and have user experience design backgrounds. Willing to communicate with people from different backgrounds helps me understand real needs. I love to be passionate and take challenges.



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