South Gardens

An urban sanctuary with wellness, ecology and community at its heart

Winner of the prestigious Landscape Institute President’s Award 2018  

South Gardens was driven by a bold vision: to be the UK's very first Climate Positive residential development. Our response was to create an ecologically rich urban sanctuary - a playable, liveable, biodiverse oasis for humans and wildlife to share. 


Recent research tells us that spending twenty minutes in nature can reduce stress and anxiety. At South Gardens our ambition was to create a landscape that invited people to while away a whole day.

We looked beyond the city limits for inspiration, with a concept drawing heavily on the feathery edges, earthy scents and complex biodiversity of a British woodland edge. We favoured native species and wildlife-friendly planting across the design of three courtyards, two communal roof gardens and eleven green roofs.

Gently winding paths echo woodland walks, with a soft fringe of trees framing glimpses into richly planted glades. These intimate spaces play with a sense of enclosure, creating semi-private areas within the communal courtyards. Some offer natural play, while others provide sociable seating to encourage neighbourly encounters.

Wildlife havens have been created along the way - from a multi-story bug hotel, to plants and trees offering an edible feast for birds and insects. Residents are also catered for, with a patchwork of heavily laden fruit trees and fragrant herbs encouraging engagement with the rhythm of the changing seasons.

Extending from the ‘forest floor’ through the canopy, up green walls to the biodiverse green roof, our design creates a coherent sustainable blueprint for how humans and wildlife can coexist successfully in the future city

 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)

“South Gardens provides a flagship case study of how a residential landscape can become an urban sanctuary – inclusive and ecologically rich – with a philosophy that places the community, wellness and ecology at its heart."  

-  Adam White. President, The Landscape Institute