Reading: Barton Willmore showcases its work at Oracle Riverside

Over 50 construction and landscape design professionals from across Berkshire visited one of Reading’s most vibrant public spaces on June 20 to see the redevelopment of The Oracle Shopping Centre’s Riverside, designed by Barton Willmore’s landscape architecture team.

The new look Riverside which has significantly enhanced The Oracle’s public realm as part of Hammerson’s £5.7 million upgrade, creates a sequence of spaces to maximise the riverside location and provide more opportunities for social activities.

Situated minutes from Barton Willmore’s head office in The Blade, landscape architects Richard Webb and Malcolm Yull, had the pleasure of being able to stroll to their latest project to highlight to the group of industry professionals the significant amount of detail that has gone into the newly improved space.

Developed in two phases, the first includes the new Pavilion and reconfiguration of The Riverside’s terrace steps creating a much larger public space that will accommodate events and performances, kiosks and pop-ups, while the second phase will focus on delivering further enhancements across The Oracle’s wider public realm.

Additional planting including a green wall and a biodiverse roof to the Pavilion and the use of complimentary materials such as granite, resin-bound gravel and hardwood timber significantly improve the Riverside’s look and feel. While locals will also be interested to know that the design has been developed to accommodate the existing flood retention requirements.

Associate landscape architect at Barton Willmore, Webb, said: “I’ve been involved in this scheme since 2013, so it’s terrific to see our designs finally come to life and most importantly buzzing and being enjoyed by people. The rivers and canals in Reading are a unique part of the town so it’s great the Oracle Riverside is making more of this important asset, whilst also adapting to the changing face of retail by creating a place that attracts people for all kinds of social and leisure purposes as well as shopping.”

Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at Hammerson, said: “We are delighted with the new look Riverside at The Oracle, which has significantly enhanced the public space by the river. The upgrade boosts the vibrant dining and leisure offer at The Riverside, delivering space for pop-ups kiosks and events that ensure the centre delivers new and exciting experiences.”

The event/tour was part of the Berkshire Club of Constructing Excellence event programme. Their members include designers, consultants, contractors, academics, specialists and suppliers.