FRESH IDEAS FOR THE GARDENS

The board of Pullman Court Management Company is constantly looking for ways to improve life on the estate. In recent years there has been much progress in improving the appearance and functioning of the blocks, from regular programmes of repainting the buildings inside and out, to upgrading works on the lifts. It has been apparent to the directors that a next important step would be to review the design of the gardens and of estate lighting.

The first step was to engage in discussion with professional landscape garden designers to consider the original gardens of Pullman Court, designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd.  Of particular interest were issues relating to how the grounds had developed over the decades; the situation today; and how it would be best to move forward - all allowing for the needs of residents, visitors and the aesthetic of the estate, as well as budgetary constraints.

In the spirit of nurturing new talent and being open to fresh ideas, one of the directors, approached the prestigious KLC School of Design, in Chelsea Harbour, and it was agreed that its current graduate diploma students would be offered the opportunity to create design proposals for a small section of the Pullman Court estate within, their programme of course assessment tasks. The area covers the central driveway and the courtyard area in front of the rear block - including the swimming pool and adjacent grassed areas.

The design brief was to create something inspirational for residents and visitors, but also something that is historically consistent with the style of the wider site and urban setting. For example, consideration was given to providing green roofs, where possible, a potential beehive, and a community herb garden. The lighting of Pullman Court is also a critical issue, and the designers were also asked to consider this in their proposals, with an eye both for security and aesthetics.

For Pullman Court, this project offered a unique opportunity for creative and very well considered landscape design ideas for the estate. For the students it was an opportunity to apply their research skills and design knowledge and aesthetic to a real project. The design project was a resounding success, with nine students offering presentations that contained well-considered, inventive and cost-sensitive proposals.

The directors of Pullman Court were invited to the presentation assessment, and were asked for their feedback on each of the proposals. The group offered an impressive breadth of well-researched detail relating to the history of Pullman Court and Frederick Gibberd. Their efforts were very well thoughts through in terms of what would be best for the residents and the estate, as well as being practical, beautiful – and affordable.

Each of the proposals was unique. For example, one offered a tropical planting scheme, reflecting what is regarded by some as the cruise liner aesthetic of the estate. Another proposal offered bold new entrance signage. Innovative lighting designs were incorporated into a number of plans. Yet another, proposed metal walkways to keep spaces green but offer practical routes for pedestrians to avoid car traffic. There were some stunning planting concepts, full of colour and texture, also intended to enhance life for residents. One scheme offered a carport to hide the view of parked cars from residents in the buildings above.

In terms of leisure facilities, there was a proposal for a modernist concrete table-tennis table, a boules area and seating areas.

After the proposals and the presentation, rather than selecting one whole design - the directors elected to choose elements from all of the designs, and bring these to residents of the estate to hear their views. Though there are always budgetary constraints to ensure good value for money for the service charge, there are now plans to present elements of these designs to residents for consideration, and begin a slow phased implementation of those considered the best.

Below are links to the eight proposals offered by the students.

The submissions