Brett Gardens

Design Team: BCA Landscape, Ellis Williams Architects

The Brett Study Garden has recently opened at the Liverpool University Campus and includes 44 enclosed study carrells, each with a window into a shared green space.

This is one of the many environmental and spatial improvements we are helping implement across the wider campus. While there are more images and details to come, we would like to start by sharing some of the process and thinking that informed this new secret study garden.


To get the ball rolling we asked ourselves the question – what actually makes a place conducive to the process of studying. Covid made us look again at how and where we work and study. It focused our minds and bodies on the need for fresh air and emphasised the importance of a connection with nearby nature and the outdoors. It made us realise that the enclosed environment of our homes and workplace aren’t always beneficial for our health or productivity.  

With the exponential rise in distractions that our modern lives bring us, from social media notifications to a deluge of daily emails and back-to-back virtual meetings filling every hour, our need to find positive environments to work and study in becomes ever more vital.  

So, what is it about a window with a green view that makes us feel better? Over the last few years we have been delving deeper into understanding the psychological and physiological mechanics behind this phenomenon. It’s a fascinating world that includes touch, sound and smell, and not just sight. It involves ergonomics and proxemics (are we comfortable?) and it tracks back thousands of years to see how we are still adapting as a species to the very recent arrival of Cities! 

We have been using this fascinating research to develop our own understanding and in-turn inform our design for this amazing new Study Garden at Liverpool University’s Sydney Jones Library.  

We plan to collect further user feedback over the coming months and years to help understand the effects of planting growth and seasonal changes on the various qualities of the Study Garden, including the impact of artificial light in the darkening afternoons of the Autumn term. 

[Images: Day to night comparison – View of green space from Andy’s garden shed / home office]


Design Team: BCA Landscape

The second completed development within the Four Bridges neighbourhood and on the recently completed Tower Road, Hythe is a Grade A office building with waterfront views that achieves BREAAM Excellent accreditation.

The landscape is designed to allow access to the dock edge whilst also integrating seamlessly with the Tower Road streetscape and provides facilities for a continually evolving transport network with a scalable, green-roofed cycle store included and a car park with electric vehicle charging points. The car park area is designed to double up as an events space that can be utilised either by the Hythe building or the adjacent and forthcoming Egerton Village.

Sustainable drainage (SuDS) have also been included to continue the work that has already been achieved on the Tower Road streetscape scheme with all surface water draining either into bio-retention beds or through permeable paving to infiltrate into the ground below. Any excess water during storm events is held and released at a sustainable rate into the dock, rather than the existing drainage network.

Native planting has been included in both the bio-retention beds and meadow areas to increase the site’s contribution to bio-diversity in the neighbourhood.

Greenwich Social Housing

Client: Greenwich Builds/ Royal Borough of Greenwich | Location: London | Size: 230 homes across 11 sites | Status: Batch 1A (16 homes) complete

Awards:  Winner – 2020 EG Property Award, Shortlisted – 2022 Housing Design Award, AJ Architecture Awards – Housing & AJ100

Project Team: Architects – ShedKM, Main Contractor – Elkins Construction Ltd

BCAL are appointed as Landscape Architects for this ground-breaking 100% affordable social housing scheme for Greenwich Builds. The first 11 sites involve over 200 homes, which are all being delivered as modular units, built off-site by Ideal Modular Homes, Mod Pods and Rollalong Ltd

BCAL have worked closely with the team to handle all aspects of the landscape elements of the scheme including representing landscape matters at public consultation, planning committees, design review panels, discharge of planning conditions, tender packages, construction/ as-built packages and site inspection.

Planning History:

The sites all individually respond to London Plan Policy H2: Small Sites and demonstrate how small, underutilised garage sites can be adapted to fulfil housing needs across London and beyond. The new homes all exceed the Nationally Described Space Standards and achieve a betterment to carbon neutral. The schemes were all approved at Planning Committee in Q1 2020.

The scheme in more detail:

The scheme provides for many of the families and individuals most in need of housing in the area and delivers significant improvements to the existing public realm with additional or improved space for play and recreation, for the benefit of new and existing residents alike. All homes are designed to achieve net zero and are built using volumetric modular offsite modern methods of manufacture and utilise timber frame construction.

A key aspiration was to challenge design stereotypes of socially rented housing, focusing on quality and generosity of inside space. Despite the constrained nature of the infill sites, homes have been designed with large, picture windows to maximise natural light. Living areas and bedrooms have been designed with views connecting to the gardens and communal outdoor areas. Window arrangements, tree planting and adjacencies to pavements strike a balance between individual privacy and connections to the street.

Designs maximise private amenity and play space, with front and rear private gardens, as well as new, improved landscaping and lighting. Improved public realm links the houses, which are set back from the main residential road. Materials have been used to create a fresh contemporary presence whilst being sensitive to the surrounding context.

At Strongbow Road, specialist foundation details allowed for the retention of two large mature Hornbeam trees to the front of the site giving a welcoming sense of place to the streetscape. At Bowness Close, privacy is provided with a mixture of gated brick walls to external spaces, trees to the front to screen views in and out and angled windows at first floor level. Pulteney Mews has been activated through a new planted pedestrian priority street, improving new connections with existing facilities in the local neighbourhood.

Tower Road

An intersecting traffic corridor dominated by high-speed vehicles and traffic lights has been transformed into a positive urban space, with a focus on a strong green identity and a sustainable drainage system. It provides new cohesive benchmark in a post-industrial derelict area that is undergoing a renaissance as part of the wider Wirral Waters masterplan. A busy road space located of the Wirral Docklands, has been narrowed down from a heavy traffic four-lane road to a calm two-lane green boulevard, with a strong focus on pedestrians and cyclists. A new sustainable urban drainage system filters and slows rainwater run-off from all surfaces into an interconnected system of tree trenches – ultimately creating a new landscape infrastructure that is future-proofed climate-resilient.

“The Creative Campus has been completed by this outstanding public space which links a series of otherwise disparate buildings across a serene and playful garden. It has been realised by an imaginative designer determined to deliver on the vision. Built to an exceptional standard of finish, it is a soft and welcome delight in an otherwise harsh urban setting. A place you will want to return to again and again.”

Garden of Reflection

Year of completion: 2013

Client: The Palace Trust

Project Team: BCA Landscape

Situated within the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace, the Garden of Reflection offers visitors of the grounds a further variation in textural, emotional and even spiritual experience.

As part of the wider re-invention of the Bishop’s Palace in Wells as a self-sustaining visitor attraction, the Garden of Reflection is the final piece in the jigsaw.

From the very start of the project the Bishop has had the intention that the
Garden of Reflection should be somewhere that can offer visitors a meditative
experience in a contemporary setting, differing from the other traditional
reflective spaces on offer in both the Palace grounds and the neighbouring

The creation of a journey of discovery designed to at first heighten the senses
in the colour garden and then gradually strip away stimuli until true meditative contemplation can be approached in the calm central wooded glade.

Wirral Waters

Year of completion: 2015 – ongoingClient: Peel, Urban Splash, Wirral Council

Project team: BCA Landscape

BCA Landscape have been appointed as Landscape Architects for the Wirral Waters project, which is a large scale £4.5bn waterside development proposed by the Peel Group for Birkenhead docklands, on the Wirral Peninsula, England.

Alongside overall landscape master planning, BCAL have developed designs and details for the delivery of 6 major projects including: Wirral Metropolitan College, Skills Factory, North Bank residential development with Urban Splash, Care, Office and Retail facilities, as well as extensive new Green Infrastructure and pocket parks working closely with the Mersey Forest initiative.

BCA Landscape have also been responsible for providing proposals for temporary landscape treatments for some of the clients existing disused sites. The proposals form part of a wider initiative to bring leisure and recreational benefits to the area which will in future help to anchor the future waterside development into its context.

University of Liverpool Enhancements 

Year of Completion: 2017 – Ongoing

Client: University of Liverpool

Project Team: BCA Landscape

Development of a campus that has a clear identity and adding value to the existing built environment for the benefit of the university, wider community and local ecosystems.

In 2017 Liverpool University published an ambitious £ 1billion Masterplan Estates Strategy to 2026 and beyond. The Masterplan looks to position the University at the heart of the emerging Knowledge Quarter and to carefully weave the campus into the fabric of the city.  It seeks to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who use it.

The masterplan pledge to become a 1,000 tree campus is driving up the quality of the public spaces, and as the various proposals are brought forward, each project is an opportunity to increase active travel, to provide a legacy of biodiversity net gain, to deal responsibly with surface water drainage and to improve the mental and physical well-being of staff students and the local community.

BCA Landscape were commissioned in 2017 to assist the University in the development and delivery of the Masterplan and have also produced all the necessary landscape package information to allow for costing, tendering and construction – working closely with the University of Liverpool Construction Company (Special Projects) Ltd to agree procurement and construction logistics to enable all projects to be built as fast-track efficient packages to minimise disruption to campus life.

We have been the Landscape Architect for all the major campus improvements since that date, which now total over 30 projects, including the School of Law and Social Justice (with Ryder Architects), The School of Architecture (with O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects), Yoko Ono Lennon Centre and Brett Gardens (with Ellis Williams Architects), School of Environmental Science (with Sheppard Robson Architects).

Click here for campus enhancements overview

Active Campus Design with Sport Liverpool

The masterplan also aimed to create an innovative active campus that encourages outdoor exercise, relaxation, and social interaction within a sustainable ‘green’ landscape. A variety of different activities are set within an enriched environment that promotes positive mental and physical well-being for everyone.

This included Sensitively curated and zoned spaces across the campus enhance the sense of community and offer new outdoor opportunities to come together for events, relaxation, learning, sport and play.

Union Wharf

Year of Completion: 2017

Client: Essential Living

Project Team: BCA Landscape

Working closely with Essential Living and architects Assael, an extensive new public realm including creekside walkway and terraces was developed in collaboration with the Creekside Trust environmental charity, who are managing the terraces for Essential Living.
A children’s nursery, pocket park and extensive private residential amenity at podium level and 5 separate roof-top terraces make this a family-friendly development.
BCAL worked closely with interior designers Woods Bagot and lighting designers Studio Fractal to create a co-ordinated amenity design inside and outside the buildings.
Extensive green walls, green and brown roofs and the inter-tidal terraces combine with the carefully chosen wildlife-friendly ground level planting to give a major enhancement to the area’s biodiversity.

Wheatsheaf Walk

Year of Completion: 2021

Budget: £178,000

Client: West Lancashire Council

Project Team: BCA Landscape

Wheatsheaf Walk is a further phase of public realm improvements to Ormskirk Town Centre, following on from Aughton Street (2008) and Moor Street (2015) to create a co-ordinated palette of high quality natural materials that compliment the architecture of this historic market town.

Working in collaboration with both West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) and Lancashire County Council, (LCC) a consistent approach has been agreed across the three projects over 12 years.

BCA Landscape worked up to Tender Stage with Ian Brew QS consultancy. The project was delivered on site by WLBC staff, with Arcus Consulting and Contractors Cubby.

The project provides new granite and porphyry paving, granite and timber seating, festoon lighting and planting focussed round a retained artwork pebble mosaic.

Every opportunity was taken to make the adjacent retail and commercial units more accessible from street level.