There’s something very powerful about walking into a traditional walled garden. It can be as though time has stopped still, held in by enclosing red brickwork, and your senses are heightened by the abundance of greenery and produce. This feeling inspired our short-listed design to bring the garden at the historic Kirkleatham Estate, near Middlesbrough back to life.
Laid out by Knyff & Kip in 1709 for Charles Turner it was the largest walled garden in England at 13 acres. In urgent need of repair, and long overgrown, the Listed structure required stabilisation and a new focus to draw visitors from near and far. Working in collaboration with Landscape Architect Edward Hutchison, we proposed re-planting the gardens over time into a park, orchard and working market garden. At the centre, where once stood a run of lean-to glasshouses, a new contemporary structure rests lightly on the historic brick walls. This houses a cookery school, restaurant and café that would use and sell the produce grown on site. The mix of local recreation, education, skills training and employment, matched by the pull of a destination day-trip for people from further afield, maximises both community and commercial benefits for long-term success.
Working with a full design team, the iconic form of the cookery school roof was structurally resolved and cost-tested to meet the budget criteria. A fully renewable energy strategy was developed including ground source heating, waste recycling and rainwater reuse for grey water and garden irrigation. It would have something for everyone; open space to run around after school and pick up food for tea; an educational trip to understand the planting seasons; a place to learn new skills or even a new career; an outing for grandparents to the café; or a special evening anniversary meal.