Victoria Park and Botanical Gardens, St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda
Conceived in the mid-nineteenth century, Victoria Park and its Botanical Gardens were envisioned as a quiet escape from the crowds of St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. Today’s central, open greenway still provides a sense of place and tranquility in the midst of the capital’s bustling urban environment.
The restoration of Victoria Park and its Botanical Gardens is a collaborative effort involving the enterprising Department of Environment, the Chief Architect of the Ministry of Public Works, and other Antiguan horticulturalists, engineers, and designers. The project’s inclusion in Antigua and Barbuda’s National Pavilion Environmental Justice as a Civil Right at the 2018 Biennale Architettura offered a unique opportunity for the master plan’s mission and goals to evolve through local and international dialogue.
Victoria Park’s highlight feature, the original Botanical Gardens, is receiving a long-awaited restoration and replanting effort by Antigua’s experienced horticulturalists and gardeners. Nursery stock from around the island of native plants and trees will be propagated, catalogued, and identified as the Gardens are expanded and formalized. The existing paths will be renovated and reconfigured. New paths will be added for maintenance vehicles, golf carts, and accessibility. To provide safety for its visitors and community, and to secure the new nursery and expanding plant inventory, a new perimeter fence with entrance gates will be extended around the Botanical Gardens. This area will include the National Archives Rappaport Centre and the Victoria Park Public Library, two significant publicly accessed buildings in St. John’s. The park will include a new Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, with a nursery, shade houses, a gift shop, and a conference centre. Several unstable buildings and impervious paved parking areas will be restored to garden and nursery space.