The Landscape Guide

London Wetland Centre

A nineteenth century waterworks has been made into a wetland habitat for birds and other wildlife. There are some 4 km of walk, 30 bridges and extensive boardwalks. The landscape architects were Adams Habermahl. It is a beautiful place with acres of water, reeds, swamps. If one were to make a criticism it would be that the infrastructure is too dominant: too much bitumen macadam on the paths, too many 'urban' wooden handrails where a 'rural' design style would have been appropriate, too much semi-chic outdoor furniture.

The London Wetland Centre is very popular place and the entry fee is rather high. One wonders why more of London's parks are not like this (see comment on Sutcliffe Park). The answer, in part, is that London's municipal parks departments have a historic prejudice in favour of field sports and games. They learn how to manage turf at college and are making a slow adjustment the taste so brilliantly expressed by the poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins: “What would the world be, once bereft of wet and wildness? Let them be left. O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”

Landscape Architects: Adams Habermahl

Address: Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Barn Elms, London SW13. The Wetland Centre is a pleasant 10 minute walk along the River Thames from Barnes Station.

WWT Website for Wetland Centre

HOMEPAGE - Landscape Architecture London List