A new kind of garden; Sayes Court is an initiative to build a new home for Landscape. Part cultural centre, part research lab, part educational resource and full of activity, it will look at the challenges facing our cities in the round to find new solutions, change perceptions and reach new audiences.
Sayes Court has been an important garden for over 350 years, inspiring ideas which have stretched across the globe. Bob Bagley and Roo Angell are local Deptford residents with backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture and community gardening, who have co-founded the project to protect Sayes Court for the future, and to capture that inspiration for our cities in the 21st Century.
It started with a question: how do we adapt our growing cities so that they continue to be exciting, nourishing and fulfilling places to live in the 21st Century? In the context of increasing urban densities and climate change, we believe that new answers will come from leading with landscape first. This requires a radical change in perception: Sayes Court will act as a new focus raising the profile of this potential and exploring new ways we can influence our urban environment for the better.
We like to say that Sayes Court already exists. For a start, there is already a public park on a portion of the original garden, where we are planning an exciting programme of events and activities to start the work of Sayes Court right now. However the idea of Sayes Court stretches far beyond this, and is alive in the pioneering writings of John Evelyn and the work of the National Trust, as well as everyone working today to make our cities happier, healthier and greener.
On the ground, the new centre and additional 2 acres of garden will lie in the forthcoming development of Convoys Wharf, and are currently estimated for completion in 2021.
A forthcoming development with 3,500 new homes and space for shops, businesses and a working wharf, covering 40 acres of Deptford's historic Royal Dockyard.
The first thing was to protect the site of the garden from being built over! That done, we're busy planning for the future, but some highlights from the project so far include raising support both locally and further afield, holding schools workshops in the park, working with architects, planners and designers, speaking to committees and at planning hearings, holding and contributing to exhibitions, workshops, lectures and discussions - and working with over 100 students from the University of Greenwich!
We will be consulting widely on the design brief for Sayes Court, as it is a complex site that will need to accommodate a wide range of activity - as well as a place of beauty to charm the soul. We know it won't be feasible to recreate John Evelyn's historic garden, but we do hope to preserve the spirit of his aims which remain so pertinent today.