Initial design ideas

Summer 2020

We are rethinking the role of Grosvenor Square to transform it into a thriving place for both people and nature.

We want to do this with our neighbours of all ages, and with other London communities, bringing together the best knowledge to create a new type of urban square which encourages discovery and fosters well-being for both people and planet.

Here you will find the initial design ideas as shared in July and August.

Who we have spoken to

Thank you to everyone who participated and shared their priorities for redesigning Grosvenor Square to date. Between May-June we:

Held 18 activities

Reaching 1066 people

Collecting 3256 pieces of feedback

We asked people to tell us what ingredients and features would make the square great for them. We collected all these answers to form 6 community priorities under each theme.

Green in our cities

We love the idea of a green oasis where you feel surrounded by nature, using the existing trees, alongside new planting, to create a feeling of being immersed in nature. Balancing this with framing a central open glade will retain the sense of space that people like - all whist reflecting the history of the square as a haven from the city around.

  • Green oasis not an event space
  • Keep trees for shelter & shade
  • Keep a central open space
  • Water to see, hear & touch
  • Variety of seating
  • Reflect the Square's heritage

Accessing the outdoors

Many people thought arriving should feel like ‘stepping into nature’, and so we want to embrace that feeling whilst highlighting and improving some of the entrances and keeping some views through, so people feel safe. We understand that arrival experience should focus on people not cars, whilst allowing local traffic to flow easily. Moving around should be just as easy for those who want to cut through as those wishing to meander.

  • Stepping into nature
  • Highlight & improve entrances
  • Cut throughs & winding routes
  • Focus on people not cars
  • Safe & secure environment
  • Walkways enclosed by nature

Spectacular horticulture and biodiversity

So many of our conversations on this theme focused on exploring wilder planting, but we recognise it is important to do this within the heritage context of the square. We have been working hard with Nigel Dunnett about how we can create immersive planting that changes across the seasons, all whilst supporting and inviting wildlife by focusing on native species and natural planting.

  • More natural & wilder planting
  • Use variety & seasonal change
  • A garden to delight the senses
  • Planting to be immersed in
  • Variety of trees
  • Invite and support wildlife

Healthy places

We have heard overwhelmingly that the primary experience of the square should be calm and peaceful, offering respite from the city surrounding it. The square needs to balance open space with smaller scale areas for privacy, space for small scale events and activities, alongside opportunities for non traditional play. There is more discussion to have around any small scale shelters and what they might be used for.

  • Create a calm & peaceful place
  • Provide playful experiences
  • Small scale programming
  • Shelter, seating & facilities
  • Smaller, more intimate spaces
  • Embrace education opportunity

Urban ecology

The idea of collecting and reusing water was an initial inspiration on this project, so it has been great hearing so many people mention it as a priority. We see this as hugely connected to designing in rainwater management, as well as promoting wilding and biodiversity. There is the potential for planting to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution, and huge scope for long-term community involvement through education and understanding of the square and its management.

  • Carefully utilise water
  • Improving air quality
  • Sustainable resources
  • Longterm community involvement
  • Promote knowledge of ecology
  • Reduce noise pollution

Pilot project ideas

In addition to the priorities gathered over the past months, we heard some inspiring ideas for how people want to use and experience Grosvenor Square. Over the coming months we will be looking at testing some of these projects with you in Grosvenor Square and gathering feedback on whether they work well. 

People told us that they would like to see a variety of seating options in the Square, including moveable seats and more enclosed seating areas for small groups. Let us know if you think putting different sorts of temporary seating in the Square is a good idea.

Temporary seating

People have frequently mentioned the desire for more planting that creates a beautiful and sensory experience. Would you be interested in us creating temporary planted areas, habitats and installations, to test different ways of enhancing the planting and wildlife in the Square?

Temporary planting

Some people told us that they want it to be easier to find entrances to the Square, whilst others have said this should be sensitively done so the Square remains a calm space. Do you think we should try different approaches to highlighting the entrances, to find out how people respond to them?

Highlighted entrances

The opportunity to use both the redesign process and the quality of the new Square to demonstrate and educate people on gardening was mentioned frequently. Would you like to see us create a temporary piece of planting, a garden room, and use it as a focal point for programming educational activities?

Trialling gardening education

We have heard that people do not want loud or large-scale events, but are interested in appropriate programming. We would like to explore some ideas of what this means. Would you like us to explore history talks, drawing classes, foraging walks, small scale performances? All working with local partners where possible.

Testing outdoor activities

People of all ages talked to us about the need for playful experiences in Grosvenor Square, with a focus on non-traditional play features. What do you think of the idea of installing some temporary play features that embrace natural play, climbing and exploring?

Temporary play zone

Creating a shared vision

What happens next

Thank you to everyone who participated and provided feedback on the Community Priorities and the Initial Design Ideas. We will analyse all this feedback in order to further evolve the designs that we will share next year. Between now and then please stay in touch.