Jeremy Stacey Architects of Norfolk

[Image: Boston Square Sensory Park - please click to enlarge] [Image: Boston Square Sensory Park - please click to enlarge] [Image: Boston Square Sensory Park - please click to enlarge] [Image: Boston Square Sensory Park - please click to enlarge]

Boston Square Sensory Park

Overview: Regeneration of a public park in Hunstanton, Norfolk.

Client: Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Contract value: £0.3 million.

The brief was to create a stimulating environment on a west-facing square overlooking the sea. The site was prominent within the Hunstanton conservation area but over the years had fallen into disrepair. Special emphasis was given to the needs of people with physical and mental disabilities. The design approach addressed the issues of sustainability encompassed in the council's Agenda 21 objectives.

The concept for the park is based on the underlying geology and soils of Hunstanton. Consequently the park is divided into three broad areas. Firstly, the 'clifftop' area at the highest part of the site which reflects the chalk meadow grassland. Next the waveform lawns in the middle that reflect the natural strata in the cliffs as they bed down towards the sands. Last, the 'shingle beach' garden at the bottom of the site nearest the sea.

Circulation is organised around the edges east to west with three intersecting north/south paths. Falls are therefore minimised to ensure comfort for wheelchair users whilst views and vistas are exploited. Cut and fill techniques were used with retaining walls of logs and stone-filled wire-framed 'gabions' to exploit the natural slope of the site and to create terraces and platforms. One of these platforms, in the shingle garden, is the site of an interactive water installation inspired by the natural rockpools on the beach but with additional interest of pressure pads which, when activated by foot, wheelchair or buggy increase the height of the water jets. The platform below the water installation is the sundial garden with carved stone numerals set in the paving. Chimes are triggered electronically by the presence of the viewer so that people who cannot see can participate.

The planting of the park has been designed to stimulate the senses of touch, sight, smell and sound and materials have been chosen for their tactile qualities, colour contrast or compliment scent and rusting or whispering sounds. The shingle garden has hardy coastal paths, many of them native, that will survive the winds and saline air.

The north and south borders have all-year interest with selections of evergreen and flowering shrubs together with numerous perennials and bulbs in broad sweeps and blocks. At the top of the site is the perennial meadow with wildflowers, grasses and low-maintenance perennials.

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