Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Grand opening of Bradford City Park is finally upon us
It’s finally here – Bradford’s City Park is officially opening this weekend.
To celebrate, we have published a special supplement in today's T&A, and have set up a special section on our website which you can follow the links to here.
The city centre facility built around a unique water feature has been nine years in the making – ever since architect Will Alsop unveiled his masterplan for the district in 2003. And it nearly never happened at all when a funding bid failed five years ago.
But now Bradford city centre has been transformed to create a whole new landscape of fountains, trees and green spaces.
The centrepiece of City Park is the Mirror Pool which can be filled with water but also drained and used for public events. The mirror pool is a 4,000sq m shallow body of water (around 22cm or 8in at its deepest point) and sloping gradually to the edge which reflects and showcases the Grade I-listed City Hall.
Within the MirrorPool there are more than 100 fountains of varying styles, including the central fountain which can reach more than 30m (100ft), the tallest in any UK city. In the smallest pool are 40 low-level fountains which create a fun children’s play area.
The fountains are programmed to change the appearance of the park throughout the day so one day is never the same as the next. The pool is made of hard-wearing granite cubes with a tactile paving strip around the edge to differentiate between the pool area and the plaza. It is durable for use in events when dry and a non-slip surface when wet. Other high-quality materials like porphyry tiles (matching the setts used in the city centre as part of the Heritage Streets project), stainless steel and hardwood timber have also been used throughout the park.
The Pavilion is the stone-clad building to the south-west of the Mirror Pool. It features a sloping grassed roof for use as a viewing platform across the pool towards City Hall. Inside the Pavilion are public toilets, offices for on-site staff and space for commercial use. Underneath the Pavilion is the control room and water storage tank for the mirror pool and fountains.
At the rear of City Hall is Norfolk Gardens, in the south-east corner of City Park next to Hall Ings. This pre-existing green space has been fully landscaped with new herbaceous planting, the installation of a new bus canopy and improvements made to sight lines to make the area more open and accessible. This was achieved in part by the removal of an under-used concrete footbridge across Hall Ings.
Opposite the Centenary Square building are sculptures by award-winning artist Wolfgang Buttress. The three sculptures, all cast from reconstituted stone, measure up to 2.5m (8ft) in height and 4m (13ft) in length and weigh between 1.5 and 15 tonnes. The artist designed the sculptures to “complement the City Park landscape and the Mirror Pool and make a real connection with people”.
Buttress also designed the ten lighting columns, measuring 17m (55ft) in height, around the mirror pool. The galvanised steel columns have been designed to look like stylised reeds and rushes sitting at the edge of the mirror pool. They illuminate causeways and paths around the water’s edge and the mirror pool itself.
Four of the lighting columns feature laser lighting projectors and cameras which track movement as part of the interactive public artwork Another Life, created by the award-winning Usman Haque. They will respond to people moving around City Park and across the mirror pool causeway and changes in the weather and wind.
After considering Will Alsop’s masterplan ideas, Bradford council pushed ahead with its plans for the City Park, and it was hoped that funding from the Big Lottery Fund would go towards realising the £24.4 million design.
Bradford made it through to the final round but was pipped by schemes in Cornwall, Belfast and Falkirk, in November 2007. There the idea might have breathed its last, save for a determination in City Hall to push on after a consultation exercise drew support from 31,000 local people.
The final cost of the City Park project is yet to be fully announced after claims it was over its initial budget, but is said to be “very close” to the original £24.4 million costing.
As well as providing a peaceful facility that can also double up as an event venue, it is hoped the City Park will also kickstart regeneration of the city centre.
According to the Council, direct investment can already be attributed to City Park such as the £45 million Southgate scheme. the new headquarters for Bradford-based Provident Financial, who were attracted to staying in the city, and in particular the city centre, because of City Park and the benefits to their workers.
The Council also points to similar city-centre schemes in other areas which have reaped benefits, including Rope Walks in Liverpool and Brindley Place in Birmingham.