Avenue Coke Works

Avenue Coke Works

This 98 hectare site was amongst the most contaminated in western Europe, following decades of mining activity and lime, iron and coke production. After closing in 1992, the aim of the project was to transform the site into an area for housing, employment, leisure and wildlife.


English Partnerships
East Midlands Development Agency


Chesterfield, UK


98 hectares



This project is an example of planning from the ground up. The level of toxicity of the soil requires that the entire site be excavated to a depth of several metres and treated on site, sterilising it and doubling its volume. The opportunity thus presented itself to generate a new landscape. The fundamental design decision was that the new topography would be neither spuriously naturalistic, nor rigorously geometric.

The tradition of Capability Brown and William Kent presented itself as an obvious precedent for the large-scale remaking of the landscape, with the fundamental difference that it would no longer be carried out by manual labour in the service of privileged whimsy. The form was generated using fairly complex computer modelling in response to the surrounding landscape, the historical manipulation of the site, sustainable drainage strategies and the potential future urbanisation of the site. The idea was that the landscape should appear as if it had once been a settlement but had returned to a state of nature, the aim being to ensure that the place should appear complete whether or not the potential residential and commercial development of the site were to materialise.

The Avenue is now home to a nature reserve, which hosts many different types of wildlife and plants.

Gavin Miller Project Director for Rick Mather Architects

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