GROSS. MAX. landscape architects UK

Gross.Max. in the press

The Times had an excellent artcile today outling some of the idea Gross.Max. has floated for the development of the Kew Gardens Masterplan.

The full text below:

To the gardens by boat: Kew looks at restoring its riverside splendour

The first visitors to the riverside property that would become Kew Gardens alighted from a ferry to stroll through Princess Augusta’s newly planted shrubberies.

Two hundred and fifty years later the river entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens lacks the elegance it once possessed. Tourists step on to the river bank beside a ramshackle green hut and walk along a towpath under a busy road bridge.

When the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visit Kew today on its 250th anniversary, they are expected to arrive, like most of the garden’s 1.5 million visitors, by road. Once there, amid the beds of Himalayan blue poppies and rhododendrons, the river itself is screened from view by a dense line of trees.

However, The Times has learnt of plans now being, as it were, floated, for a new river approach — a more elegant dock adjacent to the gardens, and the relandscaping of Kew’s river border. A footbridge is also being considered to link Kew Gardens to Syon Park and, in doing so, connect two Arcadian landscapes designed by Capability Brown.

Gross Max, the landscape architect firm, has been contracted to develop a proposal by the end of the year. It has been asked to consult the Thames Landscape Strategy, an organisation charged with conserving and developing the river corridor between Hampton and Kew.

Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the gardens, said that a key objective was to reconnect with the river. “The River Thames was the front door to Kew Gardens 250 years ago and since then, slowly, the organisation has turned its back on the river,” he said.

“It really is the obvious way to arrive at Kew and we are keen to develop all possibilities. A footbridge over the Thames to us also has considerable merit and this would help staff to travel to and from work and help reduce our carbon footprint.”

Julius Caesar may have crossed the Thames at this point and Henry VIII stepped on to these same banks from the Royal Barge to ride on to Richmond Palace. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Coburg, mother of the future George III, lived there from 1735 — in what became known as the White House — and it was here, in 1759, that William Aiton was recruited to manage a small “Physick Garden”.

While the garden grew, the views over the Thames were gradually and deliberately blocked to shield Victorian visitors from the dreadful sight of Brentford, and a large gasworks and railhead. Where there was once the White House, and later a castellated palace, there is now a car park.

Nigel Taylor, the curator of Kew Gardens, said: “People turned their back on the Thames because of the industrialisation. We now have a screen of trees and impenetrable border planting to hide industrialised Brentford.

“But we want to change all that and the best way will be to ensure river transport. Anyone coming by river at the moment does not get the same impact as if they were arriving at the Kew estate by the main gate.

“The present place where you get off the boat really is a shabby arrangement. People then have to walk along the towpath under Kew Road bridge and there is a long walk to the main entrance. We need a dock or pontoon closer to our property.”


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