Forming the centerpiece of the redevelopment of Bowden in Adelaide’s inner north, Bowden Park offers relief from its hard-edged urban surroundings, a garden oasis in what is to become one of the city’s most densely populated urban districts outside the CBD.
Designed to not only draw people through, but to attract them to linger, this is a place of relaxation, social connection and recreation. Three key design attributes knit together Bowden Park’s success. A fringe of gardens surrounding the central event lawns saturate the site with life, creating a responsive microclimate that mitigates the surrounding urban condition. A fractal patterning of connected pathways invites people into the park from all directions. And a long shelter with picnic and barbeque areas and a field of water jets acts as a central gathering space and point of focus.
The park is seamlessly connected to Plant 4, an adjacent building which has been repurposed as a foodie destination, with eateries, weekly produce markets, organic traders and indie stores, as well as regular events.
The overriding narrative of a place of discovery is reinforced through ‘cracks’ in the pavement that reveal recycled red bricks, and a sensory garden consisting of a labyrinth of scattered plants and narrow pathways that lead to a bespoke children’s playground constructed entirely with reclaimed jetty timbers.
Materials and tones reference the site’s industrial past, including recycled bricks, which connect to the historic Victorian row houses in surrounding streets. The use of steel and pops of colour recall the days when the Clipsal electrical supply plants dominated the site.
Two muted honed concrete paving stones laid in a triangulated pattern provide a carpet that stitches the site together, leading visitors to the central water feature – a random array of 10 jets that dance and play, reflecting light on a series of circular disks suspended above – that acts as a shade structure.
Extensive informal and bespoke seating is provided around the park, attracting people to gather in groups or in quiet contemplation to take in the atmosphere. Bike facilities provide an additional utility for visitors from further afield and reinforce the Bowden sustainability initiatives.
Bowden Park is an example of how thoughtful and considered design can connect people, enhancing the social and recreational fabric of the city and providing an authentic destination within an establishing community.