Charles Holland Architects — The Fair Field

The Fair Field

A welcoming, multi-purpose urban square

The site for this project lies in the heart of Croydon, a rapidly densifying suburban town on the edge of London. With a large number of new residential schemes coming forward, Croydon has a growing need for high quality public open space. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team led by MICA, CHA won an international design competition to redevelop an existing, underwhelming area of hard landscaping in the centre of the town into a vibrant new public space.

Our proposal, the ‘Metropolitan Meadow’, draws on the site’s rich history as well as its contemporary character to create a dynamic, diverse and pluralistic public space. Aspects of Croydon’s rural past are mixed with modernist urban planning from the 1960s to create a space that is both busy and bucolic, a multi-programmed piazza that is also lushly planted and offers a variety of uses and activities.

At the heart of the proposal is a circular water feature; an urban pond that forms a reflective pool. The pool can be animated by water jets or be drained to allow for public events, markets or performances. The pool is surrounded by densely planted islands of soft landscape that offer places to sit and relax. A ‘mat’ of pink-striped concrete forms the background to the space, uniting the various areas of pavement and hard landscaping.

CHA collaborated on the overall design as well as designing the Play Field, a specific area dedicated to leisure and sporting activities. A circular area of grass for picnicking and sunbathing is surrounded by a basketball court, skateable benches, grandstand seating and a football goal. Two freestanding ‘kiosks’ offer space for commercial and civic uses to animate the area. The form of the kiosks – developed through public workshops with the local community – recall well-known Croydon buildings.

Following extensive public engagement and consultation, the scheme has recently been granted planning approval and awarded significant LUF funding.

Charles Holland Architects — The Fair Field