Furnitubes designed, manufactured and installed bespoke wall-top seating, boundary screens for climbing plants, and illuminated signage for Christchurch Gardens, a small public open space set back from the busy Victoria Street in the heart of Westminster.
The site is the former burial ground for St Margaret Westminster dating from 1625, which was replaced in the 19th century by Christ Church Westminster, itself destroyed in the Blitz of 1941. The site was left as open space after WWII and then converted into a public garden in 1950, with a central lawn beneath a canopy of London Plane trees. Two important monuments are located in the gardens – a bronze statue commemorating composer Henry Purcell, and the Suffragette Memorial, erected in 1970.
Landscape architects at architectural practice Reardon Smith were appointed to design a scheme that ‘aimed to create a meaningful space for the community whilst importantly improving the biodiversity of the site’.
Reardon Smith’s masterplan for Christchurch Gardens included removal of selected trees to afford more light into the site, new perimeter paths around the gardens, extensive new seating provision, boundary screening treatments and informative signage to educate the public on the garden’s historic context. The concepts for all new features and furniture included a range of bespoke designs, many with visual references to the gardens’ original use as a burial ground, including a paving pattern designed in the plan profile of a coffin.
Furnitubes' first approach was to assess and comment on the practicalities of the original designs, then suggest alternative, more cost-effective detailing, whilst still maintaining the essence and materiality of the designs, in order to deliver products within budget. This process necessitated many meetings with the design team - comprising the client, project management consultants and landscape architects – at which Furnitubes presented its proposals, explained its rationale, and discussed material and cost options, before eventual agreement of the final designs and specifications.
Products designed, supplied and installed by Furnitubes include bespoke wall-top seating and steel-framed boundary screens, including a wire system for climbing plants, and integrated illuminated signage explaining the historical background of the site.
Material quality was of paramount importance, and steelwork was finished in a specialist bronze coating in keeping with this high-profile site.
The scheme presented the further challenge of being delivered during the 2020 COVID lockdown, with Furnitubes’ installation works conducted under strict health and safety controls.
The redeveloped site opened to the public in autumn 2020 and is certain to be a popular outdoor space as people return to their places of work in the Victoria area.