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]

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.

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.

Vantage Point

Year of Completion: 2016

Client: Essential Living

Project Team: BCA Landscape

Working closely with Essential Living, Architects GRID and interior designers Woods Bagot, the top of the building was transformed into a communal amenity facility with a wide range of indoor and outdoor opportunities for work, rest and play to help foster a sense of community and collective endeavor.

Externally there are growing areas, an outdoor kitchen, extensive seating including loungers and a range of planting habitats which creates a sheltered haven for people and wildlife. Subtle lighting extends the period of use into the evenings and external materials compliment the architecture and interiors.

Spaces were designed to be sub-divided for private exclusive hire and wi-fi boosters and power were provided to allow use of lap-tops for working from home.

North Bank Green, Wirral Waters

Local Authority partner: Wirral Council

Design Team: BCA Landscape, Shed KM

Funding: Peel L&P & Homes England


The Vision

To create a new, highly sustainable, useable, exemplar ‘village green’ that is ‘of Wirral’ and sits at the heart of the residentially led North bank neighbourhood regeneration area in Wirral Waters.  The south facing [1/2 acre] waterside North bank Green has been designed to be the focal and congregation point for a new emerging community.

It also serves to open up the waterside to the wider public – an area that has been inaccessible since the Docks were built. North bank Green sits between the Belong Extra Care Village and the Urban Splash / Peel L&P East Float housing scheme – both of which are now on site.

We are thrilled to reveal this ground-breaking new NET Climate-Positive neighbourhood park on Wirral Waters, inspired by the fascinating history of the area and the latest thinking on sustainable ‘nature based’ design solutions.

“The new public realm and green spaces now installed along North bank gives prospective residents and investors their first glimpse of the dramatic improvements we’re making to regenerate the dockland area and the quality of the residential neighbourhood being delivered.” – Richard Mawdsley, Director of Development for Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters

1 – Utilising integrated ‘nature based’ design solutions to help society adapt to climate change, reduce flood risk whilst simultaneously enhancing the environment.

2 –   A whole new ‘green’ site ecology created from a derelict contaminated site – with 90 new trees and 1000’s of new plants, including a wide range of native species.

3 – Creating a site-specific unique design narrative and aesthetic inspired by the location and its rich industrial history.

4 – Up-cycling of materials from the dockland site, creating a rich material palette and saving on raw materials and avoiding unnecessary waste.

Please see a pdf download link to further details and images below.

download here

Glade of Light

Design Team: BCA Landscape, Smiling Wolf, Galliford Try, Civic Engineers, Medieval Quarter Masterplan by Planet-IE

Awards: ICE NW Civil Engineering Special Recognition Award Winner, Longlisted – Dezeen Awards 2022, International Loop Design – People’s Choice Awards

It has been an honour to be chosen to help the bereaved families and the wider team imagine and realise this memorial garden. The design ideas and thoughts behind the ‘Glade of Light’ have always come from a place of heart-felt respect and deep sympathy. We believe design is about and for people and it is not a fixed thing on a plan, but consists of an ever-changing, living and shifting series of moments. Our wish for this garden is that it will allow everyone to linger in these moments and search for stillness.

In Japanese culture the language of stillness can be described by a single word – Ma. Designing for Ma is about creating moments of self-awareness and quiet. It can be difficult to find in our busy lives. Ma is the momentary pause in speech needed to convey meaningful words, the silence between the notes….

The process of remembrance and healing is always on-going and needs space, understanding and time. We hope the Glade in some small way can help with this process and it speaks of silence, as opposed to noise and of restraint, as opposed to excess. We sincerely hope it becomes a special place where we can all briefly pause time, find a place of stillness, reflect and dwell a while.

Longlisted for the 2022 Dezeen Awards
LOOP Design Awards - Shortlisted
Winner Supreme of The Surface Design Awards
Commended for the 2022 Natural Stone Awards
2023 Civic Trust Awards
2023 Planning Awards - Shortlisted

Liverpool Waterfront

Design Team: BCA Landscape, Amey, LCC, Graham Construction

Budget: £22 million

Awards: Winner – CIHT Healthy Transport Award | Highly commended – CIHT Creating Better places | Commended – CIHT Infrastructure Award | Longlisted – International Loop Design People’s Choice Award

We were awarded both LOOP Design and CIHT

The Strand is at the epicentre of Liverpool’s renowned waterfront, surrounded by Grade II* listed buildings and the infamous Liver Building. This revamp of The Strand is both human-centric and environmentally conscious. The regeneration scheme exemplifies the very best of green infrastructure projects, providing a new sustainable urban drainage system with on-going data analysis for storm waterflow, water filtration and air quality, keeping us connected via safer walkways, new pedestrian squares, segregated cycle lanes and and introducing large canopies of trees and celebrating the city’s heritage.

“Liverpool City Centre is changing for the better. The improvements to The Strand, reducing traffic, more space for pedestrians, and especially the new top-quality cycle lanes, are immense. It will do so much to reconnect our world-famous Waterfront with the rest of town.” –  Liverpool Cycling Commissioner, Simon O’Brien

Vote for ‘The Strand’ in the Loop Design – People’s Choice Awards (vote closes: 15th September 2022)

Princes Avenue

Budget: £4m

Design Team: BCA Landscape, Amey, Friends of Princes Avenue, LCC

Awards: LCR Culture & Creativity Award – Impact WINNER, Environmental Sustainability

In recent months, the historic boulevard at Princes Avenue in Toxteth has been undergoing a dramatic and stunning transformation.

Princes Boulevard is much more than a new cycle route, it is a jewel in the crown of Liverpool 8 and an Avenue steeped in the history of both Toxteth and Liverpool as a whole.

In 19th century Liverpool the avenue was full of upper class merchants all making their trade and wealth in the thriving city port. Nearby is the area of land now known as Princes Park, which is a popular destination for walkers, families and tourists alike as part of their L8 area exploration.

As part of the redevelopment, L8’s remarkable heritage is being recognised in a series of installations along the boulevard, creating a unique journey through the area’s history.

The new look boulevard includes public art and installations designed through community work with BCAL & ‘The Friends of Princes Avenue’ and referencing key aspects of L8’s rich heritage from the many clubs which used to be in the area to its myriad religious buildings, and the legacy of Liverpool’s role as a major port city. By installing the 1km long cycle path within the central reservation, a first for Liverpool, the scheme’s aim is to improve cycle connectivity between south Liverpool and the city centre.

“The Princes Avenue/Road scheme looks absolutely amazing. The boulevard is arguably now one of the most beautiful in the country and is going to transform how the wider Toxteth community interact and use this reimagined space.” – Councillor Sharon Connor, LCC.

Madagascar Play at Chester Zoo

Budget: £0.5m

Project Team: BCA Landscape, Handspring Design, Lanes Landscape, Timber Play

Having fun is no trivial pursuit. In fact, it’s crucial to our mental health and happiness. The project expands the variety and type of play offer that was previously in the zoo and encourages higher forms of imaginary and creative social play within a series of exciting and flexible spaces.

Through creative innovation and careful design consideration it combines and balances all the latest thinking and research in the realms of the psychology of play and communication friendly spaces, with the needs of the zoo and its staff and a fascinating and playful exploration of the wonderful island of Madagascar.

There are a number of key themes and objectives that run through the scheme, including :- the use of Natural materials and a need to create a deeper connection with nature, the creation of welcoming and innovative people niches – for kids, teenagers, adults, grandparents and families and a flexible landscape where children can manipulate their environment to suit their imagination.

“Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.” – Can We Play? by David Elkind