• What used to be here?

    An Air Raid Precaution (ARP) building dating from World War II, surrounded by asphalt. The building was formed of two halves, with large concrete slabs for floor and ceiling. There was an externally accessible disabled toilet, re‑opened in 2006 after successful campaigning by FoSJP.

    FoSJP had established a kiosk in this building to serve drinks and light refreshments, which operated from August 2006 until September 2010.

  • What’s here now?

    The ARP building has been refurbished throughout and extended to add a café area, a commercial catering kitchen, external decking to the south‑west, and a viewing platform to the north, overlooking the new Tennis Courts. A new timber roof has been added, with a waterproof membrane, a wing‑like extension over the new decking, and 5 feature rooflights.

    The inside of the building has been modified with a new underfloor heating system, an internal WC for café customers, a new Community Room, offices, and storage areas. The building now has upgraded electricity, gas, and mains water supplies, and a new drainage system.

    The Building is now surrounded by a bonded gravel surface, with 4 palm trees planted in tree pits in the Café Plaza area between the Building and the Young Play Area, and a Heat Pump/Bin Store at the foot of the bank near St.James’ Road.

    Visit our Café and Community Roompages to find out more about the ParkLife Café & Community Room.
  • Why was it designed this way?

    • Features such as the underfloor heating system, using an Air Source Heat Pump, the rooflights, and a kitchen heat exchanger were designed to conserve energy;
    • The rooflights are intended to represent World War II searchlights, although following a change in materials to improve light penetration, some of the original design concept has been sacrificed;
    • 3‑phase electricity is needed for some of the appliances in the building’s new kitchen, and for staging outdoor events;
    • A gas supply is needed for several appliances in the building’s kitchen;
    • An upgraded water supply with higher pressure was needed to cope with demands of the building’s kitchen, water system, and toilets, and of the landscape’s water feature, drinking fountain, and irrigation points;
    • A new drainage system was required as the original drainage was in very poor condition;
    • The design for the Café Plaza uses bonded gravel to reflect the park’s original use as a gravel pit;
    • The palm trees in the Café Plaza were a common suggestion from consultations with local schoolchildren and residents.
    See our Energy in the Park page for more information on energy‑saving measures in the Park.
  • Historical Connections

    The building was constructed during World War II as an ARP building. FoSJP has commissioned artwork on the café windows showing a cityscape with representations of key buildings in Southampton and a skyline showing a scene from the Battle of Britain, as a tribute to the Spitfire, parts of which were built in many local factories.

  • Using the Building

    • Please take care of the external WC and leave it in the clean state in which you’d wish to find it;
    • Please use the special facilities provided for disposal of nappies and sanitary towels – do not dispose of any such items in the WC;
    • Smoking is prohibited inside the building and on the decking area;
    • Please keep your dogs out of the Building (guide dogs excepted) and on a lead in the areas surrounding the Building.

BEFORE – ARP Building with FoSJP Kiosk, July 2009
(Martin Gardner)

BEFORE – ARP Building, March 2010
(Geoff Gravelson)

AFTER – ParkLife Café, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

AFTER – ParkLife Café window artwork, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)