We are delighted that we have had a great turn out to our Autumn programme of events and we have really enjoyed talking to residents, visitors, local businesses and workers about Tonkin Liu’s developing design ideas.
1431 people participated in our programme including those who attended our Developing Design Ideas exhibition in the Square or online; the online discussion; the Walks and Talks and the Play workshops facilitated by the new addition to the design team Davies White Ltd.
We presented information in 6 clusters and asked for your feedback on these. Because we know how important planting is to this project we also created a temporary planted oval to spark a conversation about how planting could achieve the community priorities for Grosvenor Square.
We have received over 1500 comments and we will be reading and analysing these in detail over the coming months, alongside analysing all the feedback we have had from other stakeholders including Westminster City Council. We intend to publish a comprehensive report on the public feedback to date on the proposals later this year, and come back to you early next year for some more focused conversations. In the meantime, these are our initial observations from your feedback.
We asked what you thought of the four garden vision and the majority of you told us you liked it, were pleased that the open garden had been made bigger than what we proposed in the initial design ideas and wanted us to test if it can be made bigger still.
‘I like the simplicity of the four gardens and the different type of planting each can accommodate'
Many people felt that the shaded garden was a valuable addition to the Square and welcomed that it would support enhanced biodiversity but you wanted to make sure it felt safe and had good sight lines through it across the Square too.
We asked if you thought the designs complemented the heritage of the Square. Almost everybody told us that complementing heritage was important but there were differing views on whether this should focus on the Square’s Georgian significance, the more recent 20th Century history, or both. We are trying to respect and complement both but we know there is more work to do this.
Hidden water garden
We asked about our approach to levels and layers and the journey of water across the Square which culminates in an underground hidden water garden. This was certainly the most surprising part of the material presented and we have lots of varied feedback which we need to absorb before understanding our next steps. We have heard it described as both magical and terrifying and everything in between but people did keep coming back to the community priorities that relate to the experience of water as being important.
Planting and trees
We asked about our approach to planting and trees and alongside this the planted oval provided a really useful talking point. You told us that ‘the planting is a lovely balance between feeling natural but ordered’ and that you ‘like that I can run my hands through the planting and pick up all the scents’
Planting continues to be the area people get most excited about and while the planted oval might have been too tall or densely planted for some almost everybody agreed that more variety in planting would be good for people and nature.
The arrival experience
We asked about the idea of extending the green space to create 4 corner gardens and what facilities could or should be accommodated in these spaces. Generally, people were supportive of more green space provided any traffic impacts were mitigated so that the noise and air pollution experienced in the Square is minimised.
‘I am both nervous and excited about extending the planting into the corners but I do like the idea of more green space’
Providing facilities, including toilets and a kiosk, continues to be an area where we have the most divergent types of feedback and we will no doubt continue this conversation in the next stage.
We asked what you thought about some examples of natural play and introduced a new member of the design team to help us think in more detail about play ‘Davies White are a great addition to the project. We are excited to work with them.’
People really liked the idea of natural play materials and combining opportunities to climb and explore with features that blend in with the overall design. We also heard that people would like one core area for play rather than placing it around the whole Square. We are really excited to continue the conversations and collaborations about play in the next stage.
‘I loved watching my kids so engrossed with things they had found in the Square and the leaf printing was magical.’
Whilst we did not ask directly about activities in the Square because feedback has been very clear that people do not want large or loud events in the Square, the Walks and Talks, Play Workshops and acoustic concert in collaboration with Hendrix and Handle have been really well received. This has made us think about how we use these types of activities in the next phase of engagement but also in a redesigned Grosvenor Square and will be talking to you about this more in upcoming conversations.
There is a lot more content for us to work through and we really appreciate the effort and energy so many people have put in to commenting and participating in our Autumn programme.
We look forward to continuing the conversation next year but in the meantime if you missed out on our events you can still view all the exhibition content online and watch or listen to the Design discussion and Walks and Talks at bit.ly/GSvids.
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