Elephant Park Pavilion forms the centrepiece of the £2.5bn Elephant Park redevelopment – a scheme that will regenerate the parkland and deliver thousands of new homes in London’s Elephant and Castle area. Nestled among several existing trees, the scheme provides a public roof terrace, community space and refreshments kiosks, centred around a mature London plane tree in the heart of the park.
The pavilion’s location among the existing trees shaped both the form of the building and the materials chosen. With sustainability being a major focus of the scheme from the outset, several materials were considered. Screw piles were chosen to form the foundations, providing flexibility and reducing the scheme’s impact on the tree roots, and cross-laminated timber (CLT) was selected to form the superstructure. A roof deck cantilevers over the walls, showcasing what CLT can achieve, while a steel balustrade is cleverly utilised as part of the structural system to maximise the structural efficiency.
The material palette for the project comprises steel, concrete, and timber, with each material beautifully integrated as part of the detailing. The materials chosen for different structural elements was guided by function – for example, timber was used for the columns and steels connections used to transfer the load to the concrete beams on the floor. This design decision resulted in the most structurally efficient scheme. Smaller timber sections were used to close the gaps on the side of the stairs which responded to one of the key visions of the project: to show the potential of timber in construction.
Elephant Park Pavilion shows that it is possible to construct in harmony with the existing surroundings of a scheme – in this case, a tree-filled urban parkland. In contrast to the usual approach where a scheme shapes the surroundings to what we believe should be on the site, this scheme was shaped by what was already on the site, with one tree in particular informing the building’s layout.