Landscape at 50
Gillespies: City Park, Bradford
Alumni from Leeds Beckett University Landscape courses who went on to work with Gillespie’s LLP:
- Tom Walker (graduated in 1989)
- John MacCleary (graduated in 1989)
- Adam Greatrix (graduated in 2001)
The 2003 Bradford City Centre Masterplan was the beginning of the story that led to City Park. The aim was to create a place for all ages and nationalities, for large and small events, a place that is cherished and shines a positive light on Bradford.
“I don’t know if you know, but there used to be a road through here... There was nowhere for people to meet... Now they’ve built this, everybody meets down here. And everybody gets on basically...”1
Delivering the largest urban water feature in Britain was something that lead consultant Gillespies and the design team relished but was challenging. Roads were removed and major bus routes relocated and nearly 20km of utilities moved. The process took nearly 9 years from the original vision to the site opening in 2012. The heart of the park is a 76m by 58m shallow pool with 100 fountains, mist and geysers. As the day unfolds the water rises and falls revealing causeways, allowing people to walk through the pool. The water can drain to provide a plaza for events and 10,000 people.
City Park has become the ‘great meeting place’ for Bradford and a bold starting point for the city’s renewal. It has achieved what Bradford wanted, an authentic place loved by the public that has changed perceptions and has brought economic success. There are anecdotes of Primark selling out of towels on hot days but also data showing an additional spend in the city of £2,663,000 in the opening year,2 and bringing people back into the city has been the park’s greatest achievement.
“You can hear them. If we have the windows open here [in the office] you can hear the squeals of delight. You know I really believe it improves peoples quality of life; these experiences.”2
- Quote from public surveys undertaken as part of ‘The Great Meeting Place’ A Study of Bradford’s City Park. Anna Barker, Nathan Manning and Ala Sirriyeh. University of Bradford, York University, Keele University.
- Data from footfall surveys and analysis carried out by Bradford Council using a methodology developed by Ekosgen.