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. We want this to be the best garden square in the world.
We used your feedback on the initial design ideas to shape the information we wanted to test with you in the Autumn exhibition. These are split into different clusters which you can see by clicking on the icons below.
Hover over the labels to read more about each cluster.
Grosvenor Square has a fascinating history, it was hugely important for the development of Georgian London and was the first garden square to have an oval shape and soft landscaping. It is where Anglo-American relations used to take centre stage after the Second World War. How to respect both these aspects and make the Square enjoyable for all is an exciting challenge.
We have been working with Cordula Zeidler, our heritage specialist from Donald Insall Architects, and the Museum of London Archaeology to understand the Square across the years and think about how our designs can reflect and respond to these layers of history.
The developing design proposal focuses on four key gardens that we think create the qualities you have told you want to see. The Square will balance being calm and playful, with a focus on wellbeing, where people feel as though they can step into and be enclosed by nature but also be in a safe and secure environment. This can be achieved using horticultural and ecological excellence, carefully utilising water and improving air quality.
This visual and descriptions below show these four gardens and the different qualities they have.
The 360° view demonstrates what the square could look like if you were standing along the path leading to the south east corner. Use your mouse to look across to the open garden, up towards the gently rising mound of the hidden water garden or to the edges of the square to find the social ovals within the shaded garden. In the distance you'll be able to make out a rain basket as part of the corner garden in the north east corner of the Square.
As part of the exhibition in the Square, we created a temporary oval to spark a conversation about planting within the shaded garden. We wanted to test how this could provide an immersive experience that delights the senses and enhance the feeling of stepping into nature.
You can explore the space below.
By exploring more natural planting we can capture the drama, beauty and spontaneity of beautiful wild landscapes and bring these qualities into an urban square. This type of planting is highly dynamic, creating a constantly changing visitor experience that consists of a series of choreographed moments throughout the year encouraging people to return time and time again for an uplifting and joyful response.
We want to ensure that trees are a part of the experience of this space for generations to come. We are proposing new trees that will grow and flourish as some of the existing trees reach the end of their life, as well as a wider variety of trees which support a greater diversity of wildlife.
In the summer exhibition you told us that you liked the idea of the corner gardens because they would extend the green space but you wanted to make sure that these spaces would be safe and would genuinely improve the experience of arriving on foot.
During the day the floating rain baskets that collect water for reuse also provide a space sheltered from the sun and rain for people to meet before entering the Square. Local traffic continues to move around the Square, but the corners are extended to bring beautiful planting beyond the existing boundary.
At night, the floating rain baskets are illuminated to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the public to enjoy on warm summer evenings. This lighting will be subtle to limit light pollution for surrounding properties. This lighting could extend into the Square allowing its use to be extended into the early evening during the winter months.
In the summer exhibition we received clear feedback that people wanted to see something more overtly playful in the Square. We also heard that it should use natural materials and be in keeping with the overall design. This made us approach play experts and natural playground designers Davies White Ltd to help us work with children and families and explore different ways that play could be included. All images and projects displayed on these play boards have been provided by Davies White Ltd.
We think playful experiences should feature throughout the shaded garden with the meandering routes and social ovals providing a range of places and types of play but we want to explore this more with you.
Thank you to everyone who participated and provided feedback as part of the Autumn programme of events. We received more then 1500 comments and will be reading and analysing these in detail over the coming months. We look forward to continuing the conversation next year but in the meantime, you can read our initial observations from your feedback here.
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