Dezeen Magazine

Dalston Curve Garden is an urban oasis on Hackney's disused railway

This video tour published as part of our collaboration with Open House London explores Dalston Curve Garden, a community green space hidden within one of London's most built-up boroughs.

The short movie, made by Jim Stephenson of Stephenson/BishopFilms, is one of a series of video tours of overlooked and unusual places in the city commissioned by the festival as part of its 2020 programme.

Dalston Curve Garden was built in 2010 as a free-to-enter neighbourhood oasis on the old Eastern Curve railway line in Hackney, which had been disused since the 1950s.

It was designed by architect Muf and landscape architect J&L Gibbons in collaboration with Hackney Council, local residents and community groups in response to a lack of green space in the Dalston area.

Stills from Open House London's Dalston Curve Garden short film
Timber shelter at Dalston Curve Garden

In this video, Dalston Curve Gardens' director Marie Murray compares the experience of entering the gardens to setting foot in a "different world" – offering respite from its busy, concrete surroundings.

The planting design is developed by an in-house team, including volunteers, and offers a mix of trees, shrubs and perennials, herbs and salads that ensure greenery all year round while boosting biodiversity.

Stills from Open House London's Dalston Curve Garden short film
Morag Myerscough's garden stage

As Murray tells the story of the gardens, the film features shots of the shelters that nestle amongst its greenery. This includes a timber gable-roofed pavilion built by the architectural collective Exyzt to house the garden's cafe, pizza oven and seating areas.

There is also the Pineapple House conservatory, which is used as a winter shelter and space for the creative classes, and a stage for the garden's outdoor performances built by Morag Myerscough as part of a community workshop.

Stills from Open House London's Dalston Curve Garden short film
Greenery at the Dalston Curve Garden

According to Murray, the value of the gardens is evident in the way people's "shoulders, which have been at their ears with tension, just completely relax" when visiting.

"That's really the number one purpose of coming to a space like this," she explained. "Just to be able to step away from that concrete and chill out, relax, but also quite often, to take part in activities that the green space makes it easier to participate in."

As media partner for Open House London, Dezeen is publishing a different movie every day during the festival, which runs from 19 to 27 September.

The films are part of the festival's move to diversify its programme and make it more accessible in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted the number of buildings able to throw their doors open to the public.

Open House London takes place at venues across London and online from 19 to 27 September. Videos will be published on Dezeen each day during the festival. See Dezeen Events Guide for details of more architecture and design events.

Project credits:

Guide: Marie Murray
Producers: Nyima Murry and Ella McCarron
Videographer: Jim Stephenson of Stephenson/BishopFilms