West London YMCA

A Complete Landscape Redesign for a Large Housing Charity

This is the YMCA’s flagship property in West London, originally constructed over 30 years ago when standards of provision for homeless people were much lower, and now in desperate need of refurbishment. I was commissioned to completely re-design all external areas including a nursery play area, central courtyard, a new café garden, separate children’s play area, roads and parking, substantial tree planting, storage and recycling areas, along with provision of the usual site furniture on projects of this kind – seats, bins, cycle storage etc.

The brief called for an attractive and robust landscape able to cater to the needs of the unusually disparate client groups sharing the site – single homeless, children from 6 months – 5 years, staff, visitors taking part in organised daytime activities, and members of the public visiting the new community café. Main features included a large central courtyard designed to offer plenty of seating for the site’s residents with attractively designed monolithic concrete benches and trees for shade, and a separate garden for café users and members of the public.

This was an enjoyable job partly because it was such a change from designing domestic gardens and with completely different challenges and design objectives. Working with excellent professionals such as PCKO Architects and Calford Seaden greatly enhanced the project. Although design was completed back in 2013, the landscape is due for construction in early 2015 at the completion of works to the building.