Bradford unveils UK’s largest urban water feature

City Park in Bradford, designed by Gillespies and Arup on behalf of Bradford Council and supported by a multi-disciplinary design team, will be officially launched on March 24th 2012.


This landmark public space contains the largest city-centre water feature anywhere in the UK, a 4,000sq m mirror pool, and the UK’s tallest urban fountain which reaches a spectacular 100ft.


City Park stems from a city centre masterplan drawn up in 2003 on Bradford’s behalf, which provided a vision of opening up the city centre and creating a public space that would act as a focal point.

Bradford Council took the lead role in turning this vision into a viable plan and Gillespies, Arup, Sturgeon North, Atoll and The Fountain Workshop developed this early concept into a detailed design which was submitted for planning permission and funding in 2007 before construction started in late 2009.


The final design builds on the original vision of a city centre for Bradford and has created a flexible dynamic centrepiece in the form of a vibrant 2.4ha public space including the mirror pool, fountains and public art.


The park centres on the Grade I Listed, 19th Century City Hall and helps to connect major visitor attractions like the National Media Museum and the Alhambra Theatre with transport hubs and the rest of the city centre. It enhances the overall image of Bradford and helps create a landscape for investment by setting Bradford apart from other cities.



David Green, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration and Economy, said:


“City Park promises to bring great long-term benefits to the city and the Bradford district as a whole.  


“It provides a brilliant place for people to relax, meet friends or family and enjoy a breath of fresh air within the city and will also be capable of hosting large and small-scale events.


“In creating such high-quality public space we aim to make the area more attractive to visitors, residents and businesses. City Park has been designed to act as a magnet for inward investment and forms a key part of our ongoing work to support the city centre economy..”



Lighting has an important role in extending the use of the park after dark. Arup designed the lighting to provide a subtle and understated lit backdrop to the park, allowing the interactive colour and feature lighting to shine.


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 approach to large scale landscaped spaces.


The fountains and integrated LED uplights add a dramatic and dynamic feel to the space and present stunning sequences. When combined with Haque Design and Research’s “Another Life” art installation the light show is extended into the evening through the use of low intensity laser projections onto the plaza surface.


“Another Life” interacts with the occupants of the park, directing the lasers, fountains and lights to respond to their presence. This delivers a unique experience to members of the public every time they visit the park at night.


The technical challenge facing the design team was how to light a large open space with sufficient flexibility to match the different water level configurations and uses of the site. Early within the design development Arup identified the requirement for a number of tall lighting “masts” surrounding the pool area to provide lighting to the empty pool and causeway. The design team quickly recognised the significance of the structures within the open space and earmarked the elements for inclusion within an artistic commission.


The City Park lighting installation is managed via a central lighting control system, which responds to both the rising and falling water levels and artistic requirements.

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