City Park Bradford , Bradford

Boasts the UK’s largest city centre water feature.

City Park provides an excellent example of an integrated team delivering a highly complex and challenging regeneration project in a busy city centre. It is a clear demonstration of how public sector investment in the public realm can catalyse commercial development by the private sector, and help reposition a city as a place to live and a place to invest in.

The concept stems from Bradford’s city centre masterplan, drawn up in 2003, which provided a vision of creating a public space that would act as a focal point and aid regeneration in a number of ways. It’s hoped that transforming Bradford into a vibrant, modern city with an exciting future, will alter perceptions of the area. It’s also expected that creating a destination for new business and employment will help attract inward investment. The next phase is the Business Forest - a modern office space overlooking City Park.

City Park is in a pivotal location between the retail heart of Bradford and the National Media Museum, Bradford theatres, Railway Stations and the University and has revitalised the links between these places.

The £24.5m scheme required collaborative working between the client, designers, contractor and specialist supply chain to develop the design from the original concept, through to completion. The end result is a superb landmark public space comprising water features, trees and attractive green spaces, public conveniences and office/retail space.

"The unique City Park development promises to bring great long-term benefits to the city and the Bradford district as a whole." - David Green, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration & economy ”

At the heart of the space, is the UK’s largest city centre water feature, a 3600m2 ‘Mirror Pool’ which boasts more than 100 fountains. This unique feature reflects and showcases the 19th century Grade I listed City Hall. The water feature is installed with fountains, fog machines, geysers and the 30m high ‘Bradford blast’.

City Park is a multi-functional public space capable of holding large scale events such as carnivals, markets, theatre productions and community festivals. Remarkably, the body of water can ebb and flow to reflect different moods of the city and at different times of the day the water surface is lowered to reveal a causeway opening an alternative and exciting pedestrian route through the space. This causeway divides the pool into three individual features which can be drained independently or together to provide flexible event spaces for the community. Despite the size of the pool, the water is very shallow (260mm max) changing depth gradually. This creates a safe, flexible and dynamic space and simplifies the maintenance and cleansing operations, whilst reducing water consumption.

City Park has a number of sustainable features from a fully accessible ‘changing place’ for all park users, improved public transport, key pedestrian and cycle routes to whole life cycle design to ensure optimum life and fit for purpose solutions. Additionally, the Park also features borehole and rainwater capture to supplement the water supply, as well as optimum water depth to reduce consumption while maintaining the visual impact. 89% of local resources were employed, providing training and work experience for schools and universities. 

Innovative lighting design

The lighting has been carefully balanced to deliver a flexible, playful night-time setting while maintaining the functional requirements for a city centre. Lighting levels have been selected to best balance the differing pedestrian experiences, aiding navigation around the park and challenging the traditional ‘blanket’ lighting approach to large scale landscaped spaces.

Lighting is delivered from ten 17m tall feature columns which were developed in collaboration with artist Wolfgang Buttress, incorporating functional lighting equipment, lasers and interactivity sensors. The fountains and integrated colour changing LED uplights add a dramatic and dynamic feel to the space and present stunning sequences. When combined with Haque Design and Research’s interactive Another Life art installation, the light show is extended into the evening through the use of low intensity laser projections onto the plaza surface.

Lighting control

City Park’s lighting installation is managed via a central control system. The system is programmed to automatically respond to the operating mode of the pool, optimising lighting provision to both the rising and falling water levels and artistic laser show requirements. Functional lighting is controlled to complement the fountain feature and artistic layer, avoiding unnecessary lighting of areas. The integrated architectural, artist and feature lighting concept for the mirror pool basin achieves a peak consumption of less than 1kw of energy.