Great Estates

NLA Book Launch 28th February 2024

This month we are delighted to announce the launch of ‘Great Estates: Models for Modern Placemaking’ featuring R-LA’s The Water Gardens project, part of the Church Commissioner’s Hyde Park Estate which is renowned for its sustainability credentials. The NLA organised a fantastic evening to celebrate the second edition of this exquisite coffee table book by Sarah Yates.


Built in 1966, The Water Gardens is a Brutalist 5000sqm private communal courtyard podium deck that serves 200 apartments on the Hyde Park Estate. In 2018 the Church Commissioners for England engaged R-LA to revive the site which was suffering from water leaking into the undercroft carpark.

The first thing R-LA discovered was a long forgotten original SuDS design where the inter-connectivity between the pond and the planters had been lost. This connectivity restored together with the introduction of a rainwater harvesting irrigation system under the paving, the gardens maintain more than 33,000 new seasonal plants and 25 trees. Aquatic planting thrives in the large ponds hosting more than 400 fish. Maintenance is organic and chemical free. The Water Gardens are undeniably a unique hidden gem in Central London.

Completed in 2020, the project has won multiple awards for its Sustainable Drainage Systems, horticulture and placemaking  and has since been added to the National Heritage List for England as a listed post-war landscape.

Great Estates is a brilliant illustrated celebration of over forty estates across London. This book not only tells the story of an evolving development in our capital since medieval times, but it also sets out for the future what can be drawn from the most successful principles of placemaking.

Peter Murray encapsulated the importance of this book when he said, ‘While historic estates dating back hundreds of years may seem an anomaly in the 21st century, in reality, they deliver essential benefits for the capital, its planning, architectural heritage, public spaces, stewardship and its future.’