Spring Green News
Thanks to lovely Abigail Willis, author of the London Garden Guide, our pocket park at Leake Street is featured in Time Out. The acid tones of the heuchera seemed a perfect fit for the grafitti last Spring, but with every passing weekend the backdrop can change. Sunnier days ahead and the prospect of great cooking from Lower Marsh Market should lure you to visit this little urban oasis on Waterloo.
The Festival Approach
We were asked for a few words on designing for garden festivals - possibly for a Garden Design Journal piece - here is the unedited version!
'I’ve designed show gardens at eclectic festivals – it’s a very different remit and despite being open for months rather than days, it's these temporary gardens that nudge the boundaries of what’s possible in garden and landscape design. Narrative is everything – sometimes it’s more difficult to tease out the perfect story than to design the garden. We are also looking to use unexpected materials as a challenge to visitors but also because in order to notice the elements of the story embedded in the garden, one must react and respond to it. Traditional materials (regardless of expense) lull us into a sense of familiarity and we see no further than the last pretty garden. That’s not what festivals like Metis, Amiens and Chaumont are for, or what their visionary founders want from their visitors.'
First Views of Warwick Arts Faculty
There is a moment following a competition when the design team and client start to work together: change is inevitable. So here, a few shots of the intentions of the design team...in anticipation of the refinements to come as we mould our vision to our brief.
With lovely projects at the design stage, and plenty of precedent photos being taken, we have joined Instagram and you can follow our travels, site visits and the progress of our various designs by following: uncommon_deb. There are also quick sketches and a little work in progress on site at our new office in SE1. Hello to our twitter followers too - we are still there @DEBNAGAN
St Catz Love
Arne Jacobsen brilliantly crafts a soft and inviting garden from a tight grid. The landscape and buildingas are a perfect union - well crafted, inherently simple and rational. This is the original Jacobsen model we were priviledged to have sight of at the CABE review. The buildings and landscape have an intellectual rigour - yet create spaces of a human scale. Later outside, we saw the gardens and plenty of gardeners keeping them beautiful.
World Book Day
uncommon is featured with lots of pictures in this fabulous new book. 'Garden festivals are often a testing area for new ideas for landscape designers. On a small scale designers can experiment with innovative materials and explore emerging tendencies. The International Garden Festival in Metis in northern Quebec is probably the best-known festival in North America. This publication will explain the role of garden festivals in landscape design and present a selection of 25 gardens from Metis.' With many thanks to Emily Waugh, Tim Richardson and Alexander Reford.
The FCBS / Buro Happold / Uncommon team have won the competion for the University of Warwick Arts Faculty building with a unanimous vote from the competiton judges. Great news after such hard work! I'll post a project page on this shortly with further WINNING images! Great thanks to Russell and Haniyyah for lovely images and to Keith Bradley for inviting us to join the team.
uncommon have been working with a team from FCBS and Buro Happold in Bath on a competition entry for a new Arts Faculty building and landscape at the University of Warwick. We know that there is great affection for the austere grandeur of the 60's campus. Now there's also a legacy of landscape sculpture which can be included in the setting for a new building and we are relishing the research as we move onto the competiton final stages!
Over the last few weeks we have been working hard with colleagues at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Buro Happold on a large and complex scheme to re-home the combined Arts departments at Warwick University in a new Arts Centre Faculty. For our poart, its a great privelege as landscapers to a well embedded part of the team from the masterplanning and concept design stage. Our proposals include a number of 'learning gardens' in a richly planted woodland landscape, and we are excited about moving the proposals forward and working closely with the with the Faculty during this process.
Initially we had a slow start, but after the site meeting with the Schools' stakeholders 3 weeks ago, the ball started rolling rapidly! The concept design for the ‘Sound Garden’ has been signed off. (uncommon) has proposed a space that children can use in a different way to the rest of the playground, offering the opportunity for less physical and more sensory play, creating a link with one of the school’s key strengths - music!
In the ‘Sound Garden’ music can be made and instruments can be played by the children. Theres also seating for children and parents/families whilst they wait to collect at the end of the day, encouraging them to chat and interact with each other. And of course the sound of music for passers-by!
On to the next milestone in the new year!
An artistic (christmas) dinner
The Artist Dining Room hosted a pop-up supper club to explore the life and work of the renowned contemporary artist Kara Walker - so we joined with a Christmas dinner as excuse! Along Regents Canal, Yinka Shonibare MBE's (who we know well through our project for the RA) has a artistic hub called the Guest Projects space, providing a platform for creative thinkers to socialise around food. Guest Projects joined forces with Tasha Marks and writer and performer Bridget Minamore, creating an exciting evening of shadow play and poetry. The lovely 3-course menu took us on a journey through the chapters of Kara Walker’s life – from nibbles inspired by her African-American roots, to a sugar encased take on Walker’s seminal work ‘A Subtlety'.
More about the Artistic dining room
We answered to the open call for expressions of interest for the Red Brick field improvements in Plymouth. To our joy, we were shortlisted and made it through to the second round! Our concept 'The street where I live' is a collection of houses for the local community to co-design, co-create and then use to play, site and meet.
Site meeting with the School's stakeholders
This is the front of the Holy Trinty C of E Primary School is South London - not bad, he? However, the strip of land on the otherside of the fence next to the front playground is less attractive.. After a tender process, (uncommon) has been commissioned to develop a concept design, which we have been working on in close collaboration with the Friends of Holy Trinity. Sign-off is expected before Christmas!
Wisborough Green Sports Pavilion
Together with NaganJohnson Architects we have completed a pre-application submission for a multi-purpose sports pavilion on the village green. Based on the idea of a landscape pavilion (in which the landscape is more important than the building - and is allowed to flow through it giving uninterrupted views) the design concept has evolved in close collaboration. While the part facing the green will be a seamless continuation of the lawn, the entrance will boost more planting (image below).
The South Bank & Waterloo (SoWN) neighbourhood plan 2017-2032 is taking shape
After a four-year preparation period, the consultation version of the South Bank & Waterloo neighbourhood plan is now ready! One of the core principles of neighbourhood planning is to ensure that the community have a stronger say in how development should benefit them, or might be tempered. As a result, the plan will be as much a message to developers as to local authorities about what local people want.
So, if you live, work or in any other way contribute to the area, now it is your turn! As John Langley, the chair of SoWN puts it ‘The plan attempts to address the biggest problems that you said face our area, and the solutions were developed by local people too, in a completely open process. The task facing you now is to read the plan and let us know what you think. Many of those who contributed to this plan have lived or worked in the area for decades. In getting involved they showed a shared commitment to the improvement of their neighbourhood’.
(uncommon) is proud to be among those who care, advising on the policy on Green infrastructure, open space & air quality – and the report also has some nice photos of some of our projects in the area.
Getting our fingernails dirty!!
Fun in the sun when planting up our planting scheme around the base of this amazing copper-clad building by NaganJohnson Architects. Note the Sorbus commixta ‘Olympic Flame’ - we will be back next year to show you it's progress!
There's is no place like home
The november issue of RHS magazine The Garden features Deborah's garden on Brixton Road. Under the title Urban tapestry the double spread on page 58-59 boosts lovely photos by Allan Pollok-Morris.
website of the Royal Horticultural Society - the Garden magazine
Sometimes, wonderful photos of our projects pop up
Like this one, of the project 'Souvent me souvient' in Ste. Flavie, published in the Chinese Elle Decoration in 2014! More recent pics of the sheds, in the Post-Flood Restoration Garden on the Canadian coast, include settings such as a snow blizzard and the Northern lights!
Check out the project page
Is this the time of year..
..for publications??? We already announced it in spring, but now the 2nd edition of THE LONDON GARDEN BOOK A-Z by Abigail Wilis has been published. This ground-breaking book (no pun intended..?) celebrates the wealth of London’s gardens with an inspirational compost of specially commissioned photographs, reviews, practical gardening advice, and useful listings of horticultural societies and projects, plant nurseries and more.
London is home to over 3 million gardens, from pocket handkerchief front yards to historic horticultural sites like Westminster College Garden (over 900 years old and still thriving). For many city dwellers, green has become the new black and a new style of gardening has emerged, reflecting London’s diverse population. Allotments and community gardens allow gardenless urbanites to enjoy tending plants and harvesting their own food, fly by night guerrilla gardeners convert neglected public land into verdant oases while vertical planting techniques create gardens that soar into the sky. Tenacious, adaptable and imaginative, London gardeners see opportunities in the most unlikely of places - bombsites, railway and canal embankments, roundabouts and tree pits.
We can't wait to find out which letter the Leake Street Pocket Park has!
Order the book here via Metro Publications
New book: Experimental landscapes – Testing the limits of the garden
This month, Birkhauser publishers released a new book by Emily Waugh on the Metis International Garden Festival, examing Garden festivals as showcases. 'Garden festivals are often a testing area for new ideas for landscape designers. On a small scale designers can experiment with innovative materials and explore emerging tendencies. The international Garden Festival in Metis in northern Quebec is probably the best known festival in North America. This publication will explain the role of garden festivals in landscape design and present a selection of 25 gardens from Metis'.
The (uncommon) installation 'every garden needs a shed and a lawn' is described in the section 'Disaggregate and re-present'
Order the book here via the RIBA bookshop
Growing Greenhouse > Evolving Art
The plants we have planted in the Greenhouse at Pop Brixton in spring last year are starting to cover up the structure. And the ramp leading up to it has also been adorned with an evolving art installation: ‘We Can Be Heroes’ by Sam Furness. Inspired by Bowie, you are invited to etch the name of your hero on an origami dove to be incorporated into a lightning bolt.
This really floats our boat
The new festival season at Amiens has come with a boat load of new international press covering our installation 'Banlieue', including a lovely video clip that takes you out on the water!
Click here to experience les Hortillonnages as part of Art. Villes & Paysage
Article in the Italian press
Article in the French press
A special viszzzzzit
Surely we don't need to tell you how important bees are for flowers and vice versa. This month's free urban gardening workshop at the Pocket Park involved a mini-hive beekeeping demonstration and honey tasting with the Bermondsey Street Bees.
We learned that every hive needs around 50kg of pollen and 250kg of nectar each year just to survive - so more spaces like (f)lower marsh are in demand! Every pot of honey is estimated to be the result of 4 million individual bee visits to flowers and 55,000 miles of bee flights - hope these guys will find their way back and visit more often..
Click here to learn more about the Bermondsey Street Bees
In spring, we entered (f)lower marsh pocket park for the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize, which is part of the 9th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona.
The pocket park was selected for the category ‘intersection’ and in extremely good company! We are looking forward to be published in the catalogue of the biennial and wish the 9 finalist the best of luck.
Click here to see all selected projects in the 4 categories
The (f)lower marsh pocket park on the Biennial website
A lush and vibrant identity for Waterloo
@wearewaterlooUK posted this fabulous picture on their twitter feed - for the full story check out the link below!
WQ bid barrels' project page
A New Green Landscape for the Old Kent Road
Some thoughts after an intriguing discussion at Southwark Council about the emerging policy and vision for regenerating the Old Kent Road.
There was a moment last Thursday afternoon when I was in despair about how we handle regeneration in London: we were looking at some drawings of a 'vision' for this place where a new populace the size of Dover is expected to join the existing residents...6-8 storey blocks lined the (almost empty) street, there was barely a tree in sight and a Victorian pub, one of the very few remaining historic teeth in a cavity -ridden streetscape, was hidden by the homogenised architecture of 'the new'.
And so I wondered:
For the whole article, click here
(F)Lower Marsh Flowering
We regularly pass though Leake Street and onto Lower Marsh and stop to take pictures of the changing floral landscape. This was a deliberately densely planted scheme (partly in the vain hope of leaving no space for rubbish) but also as living colourful competition to the rampant grafitti for which the tunnel is so well know. Plants (from Robin Tacchi) are definately holding their own with plenty of blooms and the colours developing in complement to the planters and architecture. We'll continue celebrating the seasons!!
A little teaser..
Hope you are getting curious! To be continued in October :)
Opening of the 7th edition of Art, Villes & Paysage
The twenty eight jardins and twelve installations of the Hortillonnages festival in Amiens, France, have re-opened for another season. They are waiting to be discovered by boat or on foot. (uncommon)'s waterborne installation 'Banlieu' (No.37 on the map - next to the Ile Robinson) has been part of the festival every year since 2013.
link to the 2016 visitors guide (in french and english)
Pop Brixton takes a planning and placemaking award home
The award for 'placemaking using public sector-owned land and property' was awarded to the project. Pop Brixton is a partnership between Lambeth Council, which is providing the land at no cost, and local architect Carl Turner Architect, who has partnered with developers The Collective, to help deliver the scheme.
The award results
(uncommon) was responsible for the design a series of projects with landscape and planting as a focus for the Pop Brixton community Project page
In addition, Pop Brixton was highly commended in the catagory 'promoting economic growth', as it supports local jobs, training and enterprise. More on the impact of Pop Brixton
Today the latest Garden Design Journal arrived - showcasing (f)Lower Marsh Pocket Park!
A great opportunity to say thank-you (once more) to all our partners: The Mayor of Londons' Environment fund, We Are Waterloo BID (with project manager for Lambeth, Steve Wong), Kinley Systems (Corten Planters), Robin Tacchi Plants, Barchams Trees, Ronacrete (Terracotta pavement) and FM Conways (construction).
Garden Design Jounal website
Those lovely flowers, when Pop Brixton had just opened...
Harry Yeates of the Brixton Blog reflected on Pop Brixton's first year:
'It has transformed unused land into a vibrant community, yet Pop Brixton remains a controversial subject ... an inclusive social enterprise, an unwelcome symbol of Brixton’s gentrification, or, perhaps, a bit of both?'.
Being part of the first year of Pop, from the mad planting craze leading up to the opening at the end of May last year, until the opening of Pop Farm a few weeks ago, we can only say: you live, you learn, and if you do it well, you make friends along the way!
Re-visiting Wisborough Green: Stable Fields
Exciting new plans for a landscape intervention in Sussex. Coming soon!
Thanks for the Memory!
We love Factory Furniture for taking us back to Westonbirt! Out of the blue, they posted some lovely pictures of the garden we made for the festival in 2004, reminding us how the beauty of construction, and the celebration of it, is so often overlooked.
factory furniture twitter feed
Back from 'Reporting from the Front'
The 15th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale is not the Biennale of certainties, but of questions that can be answered. It is no coincidence that in several areas there are many peremptory questions, written on walls and installations. Is it possible to create a public space in a private commission? Does permanence matter? Do we really need to produce so much waste? Why does the theme of the common good seem so pervasive?
Many projects are striking for their ingenuity. We saw examples of ideas so simple they seem obvious, but they are the perfectly balanced local, site-specific or community-oriented solution for the issues we face all over the world — from displacement and immigration to traffic, pollution, waste and more.
It is lovely to see..
a space put to good use! The (f)Lower Marsh Pocket Park is along Lower Marsh Market, SE1 and in addition to people eating, sitting and chilling, WeAreWaterloo organises great stuff. Like today: a free desk garden workshop! Photo via their twitter feed. Curious for the next? Follow them via @wearewaterlooUK
(f)Lower Marsh Pocket Park Flourishes
The early tulips have come and gone, but it is looking better then ever!
Wrap it up!
Artist Yinka Shonibare MBE has wrapped 6 Burlington Gardens in an Royal Academy Family Album! That reminds us so much of the competition for the RA in which (uncommon), WW+P and Yinka collaborated.
A day out of town
To see, feel, touch, breath and smell the Jurrasic Coast!
Special Project Page on or Durlston/Newfoundland Submission coming soon.
The Waning Days of Amaryllis
No doubt the botanically-correct hate to hear these majestic flowers referred to as amaryllis...but this is how we know these old friends, blooming a year on after their first showing for the Chelsea Fringe 2015 at Pop Brixton. It's been a majestic scene in the office with some of the blooms becoming much larger and deeper coloured than last year. They'll be back again at Pontypool Place next year in our newly refurbished offices.
Out and about
(uncommon) and naganjohnson architects taking a break after running to support Wisborough Green Sports Pavilion.
Connecting World Heritage Sites
We have been shortlisted for a fascinating project - an opportunity to create an installation / landscape on the Jurassic Coast at Durlston Country Park near Swanage which forges a link with another Unesco WHS somewhere else in the world (of our choice!).
We have chosen Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland which was also selected as a WHS for its geological heritage; an incredible place where the earths' mantle was pushed up to the surface creating dramatic barren tablelands, caustic bogs and stunted tuckamore forest. Deborah visited Gros Morne in 2000 on the way to her first Jardins de Metis Festival, staying in lighthouses, spotting icebergs and reading 'The Shipping News'. We'll hear whether we have won this commission next week. Fingers crossed!
Spring is coming
(f)Lower Marsh Pocket Park - the entrance to the Leake Street Tunnel - is looking lovely with deep orange tulips popping up everywhere. So much so, that Abigail Willis, the author of THE LONDON GARDEN BOOK A-Z has noticed it! Metro Publications will publish the 2nd edition soon, which will be including the pocket park. Photo by Susi Koch.
Ha-Ha! Garden History
(uncommon) is now working with Fletcher Crane Architects at Claremont Fan Court School, as they develop a new range of learning facilities.
The school grounds make up the larger element of the Grade 1 listed landscape by Capability Brown and include the Vanbrugh mansion. The school is adjacent to the National Trust 'Pleasure Grounds'. The School has the haha, although sadly, only a portion of the original walled garden, much of which is now private housing on a golf course estate to the east of the school.
To work in such a historic setting is in many ways a daunting task, but we look forward to developing a range of planting and hardscape areas as the scheme progresses.
Our final project for Pop Brixton opened yesterday : Pop Farm Yard
Check out the video of that day, hosted by Urban Growth here
More info on Pop Farm activities here
Coincidentally, it was the same weekend I finally found some time to read ‘A sustainist lexicon: seven entries to recast the future – rethinking design and heritage’ by Michiel Schwarz.
The 3th entry LOCAL, had some very appropriate text: ‘The open hexagon (..) signifies locally-rooted qualities, values and experiences in the context of a globalised world. The hexagon mirrors both the city citadel as a human construct and the beehive honeycomb as an object made by nature. By opening the hexagon, the symbol reflects an open culture, one of the hallmarks of sustainism. The connecting of three hexagons reflects the idea that today – in part through social media and shared networks – all locals are globally connected' (p.60-61).
The symbol overlaying our photo is designed by Joost Effers (Creative Commons by-nc-dc) for the sustainist lexicon.
Looking for a short-break destination?
The house of Culture in Amiens issued a glossy A2(!) newspaper to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The installation ‘Banlieue’ which we did for their garden festival is featured in the article ‘Voyage en Utopie’ – go travel and see it for yourselves, it will again be part of the 2016 boat-route!
More info here
Pop Brixton has been short-listed for the Planning & Placemaking Awards in no less then 4 categories!
- Award for placemaking on brownfield land.
- Award for mixed-use development.
- Award for placemaking using public sector-owned land and property.
- Award for promoting economic growth.
Fingers crossed for the award ceremony in June
more info on the short list and awards here
Pop Farm is maturing!
Our final project at Pop Brixton is taking shape: the planters and greenhouse in the back courtyard are being installed for Urban Growth Learning Gardens CIC, the social gardening enterprise that is based in The ImpactHub @Pop Brixton. As Spring approaches they will be helping you to prepare for the growing season with seed-sowing, pruning and propagation activities, including formal qualifications and free workshops.
New river walk project
a sunny, crispy cold and clear day; perfect to measure up the site in Rotherhithe!
Coming soon 'Mini Gardens: Making the Most of Your Private Yard'
Today we handed in the materials for a new book! 'Even if it is a small courtyard or a pocket forecourt at your house, you can make it into a secret garden of your own. Whether located in densely inhabited downtown or in distant suburbs, these mini gardens can give identity to your house, while allowing making the most of the limited area'. We @(uncommon) know all about it: our project Copper House Garden will be featured alongside projects from the US, France, The Netherlands, Denmark and Canada.
Publication is expected in May 2016 - we will keep you posted!
project page here
SGD Spring Conference: State of Flux
Entitled 'State of Flux - Capturing the ephemeral in contemporary gardens and landscape' the conference will examine gardens and natural spaces that are deliberately temporary and naturally impermanent. Exploring the subject will be a panel of speakers whose experimental work has embraced the ephemeral and transitory nature of plants to great effect - Director of (uncommon) Deborah Nagan is one of them!
Saturday 19th March 2016
Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
London, SW7 2AR
Happy New Year!
We are back in the office after a well-deserved break. 2016 is starting promising with much to look forward to: another Crossrail site, landscaping the entrance to a 4-star hotel a stone’s throw from Hyde Park, and a historic educational landscape touched by Capability Brown. Not to mention plenty of place making projects in South London..
It's nearly Christmas!
In the last week before the Christmas holidays we are looking back at a fruitful year. In spring, we were busy in Brixton and Clerkenwell, building green infrastructure at Pop Brixton and an indoor garden for Moroso at the Clerkenwell Design Week. In summer, we moved to Brixton ourselves while the office in Waterloo is being refurbished. In autumn Leake Street Pocket Park was opened. And amidst all of this we worked on Crossrail and have been cooking up plans for next year.. stay tuned!
Image: (uncommon) at Metis Festival - project page here
Goodbye Ai Wei Wei
Watching the trees being removed from the Royal Academy courtyard was sad, but a reminder of a great exhibition - and one which is really well documented on-line if you didn't get to see it.
More info here
The works on our office in Waterloo have started in October. 4 weeks later, this is what it looks like!
Site visit to Salston Manor
(uncommon) is doing the landscape design for this impressive Grade II listed Manor House near Ottery St. Mary in Devon.
Lower Marsh Garden
a crowd gathered on Lower Marsh this afternoon as the Pocket Park was opened. Previously a constrained and graffiti-ridden urban gap site - now a garden which echoes it's surroundings, marking the southern entry to the Leake Street tunnel, the spot for world class graffiti artists.
The Walk the Walk global day of volunteering at Pop Brixton
What do you get when you put a team of people from very different backgrounds together? William Morris and IMG joined offender employment charity Bounce Back for a day at Pop Brixton. (uncommon) took the lead in the first session. After a walk around explaning the different Pop Farm aspects, wire sculptures were created for the edges of the planters, to enrich and protect them.
More info on Bounce Back and WTW15
Already looking forward to next year..
..when 'Banlieu' will be back in Amiens for a forth time! We just received word that the festival's artistic committee decided to renew the installation in 2016 - with work to start in March/April, ready for you to visit in spring.
More info here
Exciting days on Lower Marsh!
today two fine species of Gleditsia triacanthos Sunburst came to site. These elegant honey locust weigh 250KG and have delicate leaves that are golden-yellow in early summer, adding a beautiful touch to this urban garden.
Fabulous floral win
We had a great morning at the London in Bloom Awards! Waterloo Quarter BID won Silver Gilt - because we too are 'We are Waterloo'!
Read the Article here
More on London in Bloom
WQ bid barrels' project page
Back to school..
the new school year is starting with apples growing in the Portable Orchard at Pop Brixton!
Another international publication!
after last weeks publication in a Dutch magazine, now there is a French/English book covering our work! The book 'Art, Villes & Paysage' / 'Art, Cities & Landscape' is a collaboration between the city of Amiens and King's Lynn - West Norfolk in the UK. The book covers the installations and gardens made in 2013/2014/2015, including (uncommon)'s 'Banlieu' in the Hortillonnages of Amiens.
We have moved!
you can come and see us in central Brixton :
11A Beehive Place
London SWG 7QR
Waterloo Quarter barrels in the running for London in Bloom
'In November 2014 Waterloo Quarter commissioned local landscape consultants, named (uncommon), to increase local green infrastructure in the area. Thanks to their design and a series of community planting events there are now 100 planters on the streets of Waterloo'
read the entire article here
The cottage garden - new style?!
This morning we received a copy of Dutch garden magazine Groei&Bloei. They feature the Brixton garden in their July issue - discussing the similarities and differences with a traditional English cottage garden.
(uncommon) has joined the 'Future of Places' conference in Stockholm : 3 days of reflection on the importance of public space and placemaking in city planning, in preparation of Habitat III 2016.
Burlington Gardens Festival
Remember last years' competition to re-design the area around the RA, were we teamed-up with WestonWilliamson Architects and Yinka Shonibare?
This summer, everyone is invited to join the Royal Academy of Arts' free summer street party - spilling out of the studio and into the street! Burlington Gardens will be pedestrianised, with food and drink on offer. Artist will take over with installations, talks, an immersive sound-movement work, live music and performance. Get creative with print-making and drawing workshops, join activities for children or take a theatrical tour with Place and Means.
Saturday the 4th of July - website
Our work at Pop Farm has been picked up by the Landscape Institute
read the article here and make sure to flip through the photo's!
Rural Gardens for Wisborough Green
(uncommon) have been working on ideas and a planning proposal for homes in Wisborough Green, West Sussex. The local socio-economic context has led the team to look at active retirement housing, recognising the need for older people to downsize but remain in their village with the possibility of assistance as they age. Our landscape strategy is an active gardening community, welcoming residents of the village to share the allotments, ponds & green spaces, and placing the housing in the gardens to encourage time spent outdoors.
Our floating installation for the Art, villes & paysage festival has been re-created for a third successive year. We are delighted, because projects are only re-built following public voting for the popular gardens. The team in Amiens have tackled the mammoth task of fixing 6 km of strapping tape to the timber framework whilst bobbing up and down in a boat! Our thanks go to Gilbert Fillinger and his dedicated band of builders/sailors/gardeners in Amiens. Further information is available on their website - and the gardens remains open (accessible by boat) until October 11th 2015.
Spreading the joy
yesterday another 40 barrels were added to the streets of Waterloo!
Pop Brixton is buzzing!
The opening of Pop Brixton was followed by a major architectural turnout for the RIBA London Open Exhibition - the first container show. We added life to the entrance to the exhibition area, which is adjacent to Japanese tea company Kyocha : the Tea Garden.
With a palette of plants used for making herbal, medicinal and floral teas, we created angled raised beds linked by deep purple arches. The flowers have be chosen to complement the adjacent containers : right now purples dominate, but there will be a strong colour shift later in the summer as orange and deep yellow blossoms open.
visit the project page
The moment you finish one thing..
..the next thing takes off : Construction on Leake Street Pocket Park has started!
Thanks ProLandscaper for featuring our work at Pop Brixton - read the article here
Clerkenwell Design Week with Moroso
It's been a week of hail and sun but our indoor garden has defied the elements in the setting of the Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell. Now the vegetables have gone off to a real urban farm in London : Pop Farm. This is the green element of the container-park business development, Pop Brixton. (uncommon) is responsible for vegetating this challenging environment which opens on Friday May 29th.
Thank-you to all the visitors who came and photographed the Lekk garden, which has been much-tweeted this week. And a special thanks to everyone who contributed - the staff at (uncommon) & naganjohnson who organised & built the garden, Travis Perkins for the blocks, African Queen Fabrics for the batik cloth & cushions, And PR for signage and great help, Joe for the tyres, and of course to Clerkenwell Design Week & Moroso - Thank-you all.
Deborah Nagan has been a member of CABE's Oxford Design Review Panel since it was created over a year ago. It's a wonderful chance to visit her undergraduate home regularly, but also to be an advocate for early embedding of landscape and public realm awareness in all schemes. It's a message that's echoed by the whole panel, landscape experts and architects. See what co-chairs Joanna van Heyningen & Keith Bradley have to say about it here.
In the office, our Amaryllis cultivation continues ready for the transfer to Pop Brixton next week (with the Papilo variety in the lead - determined to flower first!). All 250 bulbs will move this week as the Garden of Disorientation Vol. 2 gets under way for the Chelsea Fringe. Down in South London, the Greenhouse is taking shape, and as well as a great installation in the opening weeks it will become a new community space for Brixton. Alongside the amaryllis we have kiwi's, passionfruit, tomatoes & chilli's as the beginning of the more tropical scheme planned for this space. Anyone will be able to visit the Greenhouse, open daily from 9am to 11pm, and Chelsea Fringe visitors will be particularly welcome to the Garden of Disorientation Vol 2.
‘Lekk’ is a Wolof word meaning edible, or tasty.
Tiny vegetable gardens exist all over Senegal, even in tight urban areas. These gardens are the inspiration for our installation at Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 for Moroso. This Italian furniture brand has created a range of outdoor furniture which depend on the skills of Senegalese basket weavers and for some years they have supported a manufacturing base in Dakar. Created from highly coloured string, pieces from the M'Afrique range will be on display in the Lekk garden.
Entry to all Clerkenwell Design Week events and exhibits with a CDW festival pass, available free of charge on registration. Opening hours 11am to 9pm, 19th to 21st May 2015.
Pop Farm Planting
May 15th & 16th: Two tiring days but they saw the real start of Pop Farm as the planting began at Pop Brixton. Largely through the efforts of a team of very hardworking volunteers, the exterior planters reveived tonnes of soil, and their very first plants. The beautiful boxes, made from scaffold planks by the on-site apprentices, form the perimeter planting (the 'Stripe Garden'). The scheme is largely vertical planting with edible and beatiful plants climing up ropes to clad the container walls with greenery and flowers. The first group of plants includes passion fruit, blackberry, tayberry, jasmine, grapes & strawberries, with a selection of herbs and vegetables, and more to come.
We will be establishing Pop Farm as a Community Gardening scheme over the coming months and look forward to developing more exciting projects in and around urban food production and education over the coming months. We would love to recruit lots of volunteers for a varied range of activities...no gardening expertise required! Do sign up by sending a message!
Deborah already has lots of followers on twitter (@DEBNAGAN), but to follow our work on installations and landsapes and see how the schemes are progresing, we have a new account - so please follow @uncommonland to find out more about our projects, and get involved with some of them too.
We have a studio full of Amaryllis... Hippeastrum to the horticulturally correct. We are forcing them into flower for the re-incarnation of the Garden of Disorientation which will be at Pop Brixton from May 18th to 29th, as part of the Chelsea Fringe. We have had a fabulous illustration made by Kaylene Alder, and also been sponsored by Designers Guild http://www.chelseafringe.com/event/the-garden-of-disorientation-volume-2/2015-05-19/
Pop Brixton are also recruiting volunteers for the Pop Farm so if you would like to help with our projects get in touch via www.popbrixton.org/. You won't need any experience and there will be a chance to learn about growing edible plants in confined city spaces as well as events and demonstrations.
The Wolof word for 'edible' is the title of our latest installation for Clerkenwell Design Week.
Set in the 'Icon House of Culture' overlooking Clerkenwell Green, our space hosts part of the M'Afrique collection by Moroso. Our garden in this space pays homage to the urban farmers of Senegal - We are awaiting the delivery of metres of coloured string from Senegal as Patrizia Moroso has the M'Afrique furniture range made there. Part of the room will be a woven string floorcloth and a planting scheme inspired by the tiny city vegetable gardens created by the city-farmers of Dakar. A vital component of the economy, these spaces are mostly tended by women, who wear their colourful batik cloth best outfits to market with their produce. We celebrate their work, and that of the skilled weavers of the Moroso furniture.
Click Clack Don't Look Back!
On Redcross Way, a tranquil back-street running parallel to Borough High Street, there's a plot of land surrounded by hoardings. There's a big rusty iron gate adorned with ivy, ribbons, flowers, feathers, jewellery and other curious totems – and with a bronze plaque bearing the epitaph: 'R.I.P. The Outcast Dead'. This is Cross Bones, a post-medieval un-consecrated burial ground for paupers south of the River Thames in SE1 that remained in use until 1853. Thousands of people – especially those on the margins of society including prostitutes from Bankside's brothels – are thought to be buried there.
Landowner Transport for London (TfL) has leased the burial ground to Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), for at least three years and BOST have been lucky enough to secure initial grant funding to make the site safe, add a gate, and lay out the first raised bed to protect the human remains. BOST need to raise a further £60,000 to turn this special place into a garden with regular opening hours, for all to enjoy, and remember. Please donate! using our Buzzbnk site as we are trying to raise £30,000.00.
(uncommon) have joined Place Alliance, a group of organisations and individuals who share a belief that the quality of the built environment – the places in which we live, work and play – has a profound influence on people’s lives. We believe that through collaboration we can create and maintain better places. To this end, Place Alliance supporters share knowledge and support each other to demand and realise buildings, streets and spaces that enhance the quality of life for all.
Together we aim to:
• Inspire and raise aspirations for places
• Support dialogue and collaboration to improve place quality
• Build and share evidence, knowledge and resources
• Influence policy, practice and behaviour to achieve better place quality
• Be open and accessible to all interested individuals and organisations
POP planting at Pop Brixton!
(uncommon) have been appointed to devise a site-wide edible and educational planting scheme for an exciting mixed-use project in Brixton. Pop Brixton has been devised by Carl Turner Architects and is a community campus for startups, small businesses, local entrepreneurs and community organisations. Created from low-cost, low-energy shipping containers, the refreshing design has a focus on sustainability and efficiency. The converted units will create a mini-city. Pop Brixton will include an event space hosting live acts as well as community and private events including film screenings and performance art.
The first planting will be in April this year and continue with a seriews of projects including an orchard and huge raised greenhouse. The space will be a new community garden at the heart of Brixton - we are even hoping to have chickens!. Come and volunteer and be part of creating the gardens. We have an exciting series of events planned for the Chelsea Fringe 2015 and plenty of opportunities to be involved, learn about food growing in the city and taste the fruits of the containers.
Getting Ready for Re-imagining Mayfair
Yesterday our office became a film studio as we made our video for Reimagining Mayfair! Using a forced perspective model (rather like a theatre set model), printed lighting gels and preforated fabric we were able to model the effects of shadow and coloured light on visitors to the new Burlington Row entrance to the Royal Academy. The effects would be created below a billowing canopy of African batik fabric, a structure designed in conjunction with Yinka Shonibare MBE RA and Weston Williamson Architects. The full proposals are to be presented on Friday evening in a free public event at the RA, chaired by Charles Saumarez Smith, https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/event/reimagining-mayfair-public. Everyone is welcome to attend, or to have a look at the exhibition over the weekend which is part of the RA contribution to Open House this year.
Shortlist named in Royal Academy public realm contest
(uncommon) have been shortlisted for an ideas competition organised by the AJ to 're-imagine' the public realm around the new north entrance to the Royal Academy. The team is Weston Williamson Architects, (uncommon) and Yinka Shonibare, MBE. and our ideas include an artist-curated street and gallery-wide exhibition and a billowing fabric canopy creating an entrance court. Other finalists are DK-CM, EPR and Andrew Phillips. The RA describe the competition as a ‘platform for new thinking’ which seeks ‘bold new ideas for reimagining the area of Mayfair directly to the north of 6 Burlington Gardens’. Read the story in the AJ.
Leake Street Pocket Park Progress & Sculpture Commission
Our design for a small park at the Lower Marsh entrance to Leake Street moved on last week following successful negotiations with Network Rail who own the space. We are now deep into the details and this will soon include the selection of an artist to create the high level figurative sculptures which mark the entrance to the Grafitti Tunnel.
More information about the commission will be available in the coming weeks. The 'before' photo shows just how much this space will benefit from some attention!
Chateau Marmot Supernature Dining
Super-chef Dan Doherty thrilled our tastebuds this weekend when our office in Pontypool Place became a temporary restaurant. The eight course tasting menu was a plant list to entice landscape lovers - and my personal favourite was the sea buckthorn reduction (for the scottish lobster). Unusual plants and flowers set a summery theme, but the wine too was really special and the evening drew to a close with a fabulous Pineau des Charents from Francois Voyer - proof that chief marmoteer Theo is a sommelier to watch. http://chateaumarmot.co.uk/about
NGS Open Garden: 225a Brixton Road
We are opening the garden for the last time tomorrow evening and on Saturday afternoon.Come!
There is a riot of flowers at the back and a dearth of veg' at the front! We'll be serving flowery G&T's on Friday night and tea & cakes on Saturday.
Amiens Art, Ville et Paysage OPENS!
Our installation on the River Somme, 'Banlieue' was officially opened in Amiens last weekend. Despite the pouring rain we were out on boats around the Hortillonages and had a chance to look at many of the other projects too. Recently featured in The Garden Design Journal, our upside-down walled garden was described as a 'graceful swan'.
Would you like to work at (uncommon)?
We are looking for an enthusiastic and talented designer or graduate to assist us initially for the summer, with a view to becoming a permanent employee. You will need the following skills:
- Great drawing ability and be able to visualise your design ideas quickly on paper.
- You should know and have visited some good contemporary and historic landscapes and public spaces and be be enthusiastic about them.
- Ability to detail hard landscape and work with unusual materials. A love of plants and understanding of sustainable design principles.
- CAD and/or Vectorworks; Photoshop; Indesign.
- Good spoken & written English and pleasant phone manner.
- Well organised, tidy & responsible.
- You may have experience outside landscape and we welcome a varied background.
To apply, please send a 1 page application letter (A4 PDF) and no more than 4 A3 pages of portfolio images, descriptions and CV (A3 PDF) as attachements to an email. Your email should not exceed 3 MB in total.
(uncommon) is an equal opportunity employer.
Accolades for Conceptual Gardens
It was a great pleasure to be invited to a dinner celebrating the arrival of a conceptual garden from Canada at the 2014 Chelsea Fringe last night. Our host was the sponsor of 'Tiny Taxonomy' the UK Delegation du Quebec. I first met the designer of the garden, Rosetta Sarah Elkin, in Quebec at the Metis Festival in 2010 where we both had projects on display. Rosetta is now a tutor at Harvard GSD. 'Tiny Taxonomy' is in Belgrave Square and as well as the lovely installation is a great opportunity to explore this square which is normally closed to non-residents. The installation opens on May 17th for 3 weeks.
The 2014 RIBA Shanghai Windows 'Xintiandi Style' is now in full swing and we have provided a floral backdrop to Spring fashion events.
'Artificial' is coming to life
In a Shanghai florists' workshop, our installation for Tayohya is being constructed. Today they sent me a preview (we have been having long-distance discussions about edges...) and it's starting to look lovely.
Last week there was a bit of filming going on in the studio! Stephenson / Bishop is a collaboration between architectural photographer Jim Stephenson and film maker Edward Bishop. They've combined their experience and talents to create films of architecture and the built environment for a host of clients, including Sou Fujimoto and the Serpentine Gallery, Carl Turner Architects, Studio Weave and many more...and we became the latest to star in their mini-film series focussing on designers in their working environment. Have a look at their lovely film here:
It's mostly about the importance I place on hand sketching and drawing for clients.
Many thanks to Jim and Edward. You can contact them here:
New area-wide planting project commissioned by Waterloo Quarter BID
Waterloo Quarter ran a competition for local landscape and architectural practices based in the Waterloo Quarter BID area. The brief for this competition focused on the benefits of Green Infrastructure and also sought a cost-effective, resistant form of planting, with innovative design. The shortlisted companies were Black Architecture, (uncommon) and Studio Octopi.
WQBID is pleased to announce that the winner was (
uncommon), with an exciting proposal for recycled barrel planters. More details about the (uncommon) scheme, including timeline and consultation opportunities, will be made available on the Waterloo Quarter website shortly.
See more at: http://www.waterlooquarter.org/news/new-area-wide-planting-project-commissioned#sthash.G6spgGGo.dpuf
Chelsea Fringe 2014
Would you like to joina hard working band of friendly volunteers that power the Chelsea Fringe Festival for 2014?
The Chelsea Fringe is an alternative garden festival primarily based in London, but with events across the UK and beyond. The Festival is an open-access platform and is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) run entirely by volunteers. It showcases all kinds of projects from guerrilla gardeners, community growing initiatives, botanical art collaborations and spontaneous performance happenings.
Get involved in helping to co ordinate this exciting alternative gardening festival. We are looking for individuals to help the Projects, Marketing, PR and Events teams. You will support various projects in their build up to the festival (17th May - 8th June 2014) whilst working alongside a friendly and dynamic district team. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your skills amidst our growing network of contacts and Fringe Festival supporters whilst having fun! http://www.chelseafringe.com/
Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning Permission for roof garden granted SE1
At last our planning application to extend our office by a storey has been granted. The site is landlocked, so the scheme includes an extensive, walled, roof-garden with a greenhouse.
Return to Amiens
Last year we tackled our most complicated build, taking place entirely afloat! We are happy to hev been selected again for the Art, Ville et Paysage Festival in Amiens and will return in May to sail out and re-build the garden! The festival is still hoping for more budding conceptual designers from the UK to submit ideas to take part in this EU funded initiative. Details here: http://www.artcitieslandscape.com/
Society of Garden Designers Awards
We are eagerly looking forward to Friday January 24th as the date for the announcement of the SGD Awards 2014 (and annual dinner). We have received a nomination in the Future Designer category for our scheme at Chalcot Crescent. http://www.sgdawards.com/shortlist/4577768765
We have been selected to take part in the RIBA Shanghai Windows project, and will be creating a landscape installation for the the Chinese homewares brand, Tayohya. Using their range of incredibly realistic silk flowers we will make a fantasy spring landscape complete with pastel trees and a picnic spot in the XintianDi mall in Shanghai. The Installation will be open from March 27th to May 9th 2014.
Pocket Park Funding awards Leake Street
We are delighted that our scheme for Leake Street was awarded £40 000 funding by the Mayors Office in the latest round of Pocket Park funding. This will be matched by Lambeth and the project is due to move forward early in 2014. The space will be run by Waterloo Quarter BID who already manage the Lower Marsh Market and have recently been a delivery partner in the Public Realm improvements to Lower Marsh. We are already researching grafitti-resistant finishes!
GI 'Small Gardens' Published
We are in Gardens Illustrated ths month (AUGUST 2013, Page 32-35) Words by Tim Richardson; pictures by Robert Mabic (and me) are from a couple of years ago and since then new planting has transformed the central bed. Its still overcomplicated and I wonder how I ended up with this being rather more minimal at heart...but the overwhelming urge to 'try a new plant' takes hold...and this is the result - which I adore.
Pocket Parks Application Submitted
Working with the London Borough of Lambeth and Parose Projects, our designs for an unloved corner of Lower Marsh, Leake Street, are revealed here. An application has been submitted to the Mayor's Pocket Park scheme and there are pledged funds from Lambeth, so we hope to start construction later this year. The design celebrates a little known historical anecdote - that Leake Street was the site of an early circus in London. We are also creating a new entrance to the famous Graffiti Tunnel to more clearly link Lower Marsh with the South Bank and Waterloo Station.
Dedham Vale Vineyard
Early plans for the landscpae development of an established vineyard in Essex have commenced in tandem with their own re-branding. We look forward to more work on this 'delicious' project - we are also great fans of the D.V. Demi Sec Sparkling Rosé !
Souvent Me Souvient: Often Remembered
Our garden/installation for the flood damaged village of Ste. Flavie on the St. Lawrence estuary was offocially opened by the Mayor this week. It is an offshoot of a longer running garden we have been making at the Jardins de Metis Festival - hence the use of five sheds. One shed is located on the site of a home destroyed by winter floods in 2010 and this and one other will house photographs recording the event by Joan Sullivan (a local photographer for the UN, and garlic farmer). (uncommon) have made two installations: The first is a 'gift' from the sea: a shed covered in driftwood, plentiful along the shoreline. The other is a vessel for local people to send their words out to sea - a collection of bottles strung up in the shed but ready to be far-flung into the water. All the sheds are linked by a winding boardwalk.
SGD Awards Finalist
We are honoured to have been named as finalists for the 2013 Society of Garden Designers Awards for the garden in Primrose Hill designed adjacent to the naganJohnson architects extension to the listed house. ..fingers tightly crossed when the winners are announced in the Autumn!
'City of Trees' Exhibition Opens
It's odd to be in London whilst in Canberra, exhibition designs for Jyll Bradley's 'City of Trees' are taking shape. But we had a great taster of the way things were shaping up on this video. Three giant cardboard tree-trunks, (portals) representing Canberra's 100 year old trees became special places to listen to Jyll Bradley's sound-works. We designed the exhibition layout and portals, and are currently working with Jyll towards realising her new piece for the Folkestone Triennial 2014.
The Exhibition continues at the National Library of Australia in Canberra until October 7th 2013.
Return from Amiens
We closed our office for a week in June and headed for France to build our garden for the Art, Ville at Paysage Festival on the Hortillonnages of Amiens. The 'Walled Garden' is only accessible by boat and although exhausting to build whilst afloat, it's a lovely experience to see all the gardens and installations by boat. All the work was completed in time for the opening ceremonies. The festival runs until October 13th 2013 and is well worth a trip. Here's a link to a video of our garden, 'Banlieue'.
Amiens Art, Ville et Paysage: Hortillonnages
We have been invited by the Maison de la Culture Amiens to create a garden for their summer showcase of sculpture and landscape in the 'floating gardens' on the River Somme. The site is beautiful - tiny islands, one the centre of market gardening for the city, with myriad channels between only accessible by boat. Offered a site on land, we opted instead to created our own version of a floating garden. We will be travelling to Amiens for construction in early June and we'll report on how easy, or not, it is to create an upside-down, floating garden...
'Brixton Nights' for the Chelsea Fringe 2013
Last year for the Fringe we had the luxury of an empty Smithfield warehouse for our installation, The Garden of Disorientation. This year we are back in our own garden and taking a more conceptual view of things. Someone once said – ‘the smaller the garden the larger the birds look’ – whilst coveting a large country garden, this is a saying we urban back-gardeners should remember. So for the Fringe, birds are invited in and for a few evenings invite you to look out for them!
Ours is a contemporary garden to compliment a glass extension with a pond and a shed. Normally full of the things we can't bear to throw away yet, the shed is transformed for six nights into a bookshop and we stock copies of books by friends and Fringe participants including 'City of Words' by Westrow Cooper, 'Close' by Allan Pollok-Morris, and work by other Chelsea Fringe authors, Naomi Shillinger and Karen Liebreich. We featured in the 'London Garden Guide' and we are lucky to host authour Abigail Willis on June 4th. We are open on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during the Fringe from 6.30pm until late: May 21st & 22nd, May 28th & 29th and June 4th and 5th.
We have food by Jimmy Garcia (whose pop-up restaurant opens at 74 Landor Road this summer). Garden G&T's with very local elderflower are our alternative to the usual NGS tea and cakes and we'll also have wines from Dvinecellars and Carter's Vineyard.
This garden is open as part of the NGS. Tickets are £3.50 each with proceeds going to the charities supported by the NGS including Macmillan Cancer Support. They can be purchased in advance to guarantee immediate entry from email@example.com, otherwise there may be a queue. Tickets will also be available on the door.
RIBA Regent Street Windows Project
We were lucky to win a coveted place in this RIBA competition to work with a retailer on Regent Street and create a display in store. Esprit gave us free reign in their atrium and we produced 'California Wave' a dune landscape with giant waves made from chesnut palings. The fine sand beach was completed with Marram grass, shells and driftwood and celebrated the West Coast origins of the store.
All the windows in the project can be see in in this film by Deutsche Welle, and also on Dezeen.
The BBC Listening Project 'Pod' ...a word in your 'shell-like...'
Our pod took the form of a shell and invited broadcasters to come into a felt-shingled interior to make their recording.
The Garden Design Journal
A late season flourish for the Garden of Disorientation as The Garden Design Journal publishes an image taken at our Chelsea Fringe installation.
The London Garden Book, By Abigail Willis
The London Garden Guide launched today to critical acclaim. A rambling, thoughtful and jampacked AtoZ of many aspects of the London gardening scene, it was particularly well reviewed by Tim Richardson in Gardens Illustrated. Our garden in Brixton is featured with 4 pages of beautiful photo’s by Susi Koch and Andrew Kershmann. Copies are available from metropublications.
Design starts on Waterloo Road Proposals
After presenting an area report to Waterloo Quarter BID in August, (uncommon) are delighted to be able to start design work so soon. However – this will be a long process and we’ll be talking to stakeholders along the way. Firstly we are going to address some Green Infrastructure (GI) issues to the southern part of Waterloo Road, and this will include a scheme with some storm-water alleviation measures. A copy of our initial report can be obtained by e-mailing the office: firstname.lastname@example.org