Guildford Design Awards 2023

16 August 2023

Short List Public Realm

The Gardens to the Old Laboratory, RHS, Wisley

Client: The Royal Horticultural Society

Designers/Landscape Architects: Bradley-Hole Schoenaich

The removal of the original main entrance, retail and café buildings from the front of the Old Laboratory has created the opportunity to form this new garden area.

The new landscape to the front of the building forms an impressive vista as you arrive at Wisley. The once hidden Old Laboratory’s striking front façade is now framed by wildflower lawns and a series of topiary hedges inspired by Wisley’s original garden design. This sizeable reclaimed area has large areas of gravel surface creating a sense of space and a suitable landscaped foreground to the restored front elevation of the Old Laboratory. Contrasting with the gravel are some feature areas of light brick paving including the re-entrant with the staff entrance. This space contains many and varied potted plants creating an interesting contrast with the larger areas of hard and soft landscape. In addition to the topiary hedges are a series of raised planters with a variety of plants and grasses.



Walnut Footbridge, Bedford Road, Guildford

Client: Guildford Borough Council

Architect: Knight Architects

The Walnut Footbridge across the River Wey improves the vital east-west connection within the town masterplan, increasing capacity for pedestrians and cyclists travelling between the railway station and the town centre. The previous bridge did not meet the current user demand and was particularly impractical for cyclists. Access to the bridge from Walnut Tree Close was not obvious and created a potential security hazard at night. The new bridge offers greater visibility and an improved experience for all users.

The design of the 20m span of the new bridge uses an understated, modern aesthetic which has been developed to deliberately contrast with that of the historic neighbouring Billings printworks buildings to protect the clarity of their 19th century character. It is aligned to promote clear wayfinding across the river and designed to maximise headroom below.

It has a 4m-wide shared use deck, with steps down to the towpath at its West end. The bridge is designed to also enhance the user experience below it, and to address key views along the river corridor. Pedestrians and river users see the feature soffit with simple arrangement of the structural ribs providing interest to users passing underneath the bridge. Low level handrail lighting provides an even wash of light over the deck to illuminate the pedestrian and cycle ways and the faces of oncoming users. As the river is a sensitive ecological corridor, light spill from the bridge and wider site is minimised.

The eastern access has granite paved combining steps, seats, and planters along the ramp sides, with tall lighting totems and carefully co-ordinated brickwork giving users access to and from Bedford Plaza. The new bridge, steps, ramps and new public realm will act as a catalyst for further regeneration for this area of Guildford.


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