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Summer exhibition

August 2020

A huge thank you to the 1031 people who participated in our Summer exhibition. 

It was wonderful to speak to 112 people in the Square itself and the 919 people who participated in the online feedback poll to gather your thoughts on the Grosvenor Square Community Priorities and Tonkin Liu’s initial design ideas.

Alongside these we gathered and answered questions from the 47 people who attended the Design discussion and explored the broader context of the role of green spaces in a post pandemic future with the 96 people who attended and our expert panel. 

While the feedback gathering stage has now closed until September you can still see the content and audio here and listen back to the events here

Everybody agreed that the Square has a really important role to play in providing a much-needed green space in the city:

"Now more than ever people need green space, fresh air and some respite. The Square needs to be as green and full of nature as possible."

Over the coming weeks we will be exploring this feedback in more detail and using it to influence how the design evolves but also making sure it shapes the type of information we come back to you with so that we answer the questions you have in the best way possible.

A positive response

Overall the feedback has been really positive with people responding well to the Community Priorities we collected during May and June.  The priority of a 'Green oasis not an event space' was particularly well received with people telling us:

'Delighted to hear green oasis not an event space is a priority.'

‘Seeing words like calm, peaceful, place for respite is comforting’

The ideas around planting and inviting more wildlife into the Square got people excited and it is clear that focusing on this as a feature is where people want to see the project develop.

Following a positive response, the Grosvenor Square Community Priorities will now be used throughout the project as a way of understanding if we are continuing to meet your needs but this was also a useful way of us knowing which priorities are most important to you and where we should focus our attention.

Working with your comments

The initial designs were at an early stage and you have given us some really useful feedback that we can now work with to develop both the ideas and the type of information we come back to you with. Initially we have grouped this feedback under 6 headings.

1. Balance of spaces
2. Planting and biodiversity
3. Heritage
4. Levels and layers
5. Play
6. Corner gardens

1. Balance of spaces

"Make sure it isn't too bitty with too many small spaces; the point about balancing open and enclosed is really important"

The priority to keep a central open space was really important to people and you have challenged us to make sure that there is enough open space retained whilst balancing this with the greener boundaries, enclosed walkway around the edge and smaller pockets of space that people also told us they liked and wanted to see included. You have asked us to look again at how much of the Square is dedicated to each of these experiences.

"Need to balance stepping into nature with making it feel safe"

Alongside making sure that we have the right balance of spaces people wanted more information about how each of these will create a safe and welcoming environment.

2.    Planting and biodiversity

"There is a sense of magic of being next to planting that we want to see more of"

People responded really well to the idea of more planting, this is the area we got most feedback about how people value the joy plants and trees bring them. People wanted to know more about the experience that would be created, the story of existing and new trees and how the seasonal variety with immersive planting would actually be delivered.

"We should be aiming for a neat but natural look and feel"

Overall people supported the idea for more natural planting but wanted to make sure that it will also be within boundaries so that it best balances the messy or neat conundrum.

3.    Heritage

"I really like the idea of the oval being reinstated but I want to know more about the heritage story"

People responded well to the idea of reinstating original Oval geometry of the Square but wanted to know more about the heritage journey of the Square and how this will be reflected in the designs. The design team includes heritage specialists and we will be bringing their work to the fore in the next stage plus providing an opportunity for you to talk directly to them as we have done with other members of the design team.

4.    Levels and layers

"The idea of shade and shelter is important to use the Square all year round"

This exhibition presented ideas at different levels including using topography as seating areas, amphitheaters, planting to absorb pollution and an underground water garden but in the next stages you have asked us to be clearer about what is proposed under, on and above ground and how these ideas work together.

"Being able to experience being near the water that's collected sounds wonderful"

The underground hidden garden was well received but people wanted to know how big it was and more about what experience it would provide including how it would be safe and accessible.

5. Play

"Trying a temporary play zone would be a good way of testing how it would be used."

We received clear feedback that people wanted to see something more overtly playful in the Square; it should use natural materials and be in keeping with the overall design but some dedicated play provision was identified as something the designs were missing. We will be taking forward the idea of a temporary play zone pilot project to allow us to have some more detailed conversations about play without committing to a particular design too early in the process.

6. Corner gardens

"The corner ideas are good but you must show us how you are considering safety and maintenance"

The idea to extend the green space into the corners is in its early stages and will require close collaboration with Westminster City Council but we wanted to talk to you about it and see whether it was something people responded well to. People told us they liked the idea of extending the green space in the area but wanted to know more about how it would be managed in a way that they did not attract antisocial behaviour, so feel safe, and how the designs would improve the pedestrian arrival experience whilst maintaining the flow of local traffic.

Next steps

"There are lots of lovely ideas proposed and I am excited to see more detail"

We will continue to process all the feedback we have received making sure that Tonkin Liu and their design team address your comments as they prepare the next set of information before we come back at the end of September 2020 with the next evolution of the designs to work with you in more detail. We will be sending out a print and digital version of a programme of activities in advance and will continue to provide lots of different ways you can get involved.

In the meantime over the next few weeks we will be running workshops with young people in Westminster to gather their ideas. If you or a young person you know would be interested in getting involved then there are details of the first workshop on the 18th August from 3-4.30pm here.

Thank you once again for leaving us with such a sense of energy and enthusiasm for the project and we look forward to working with you again in September.

Get in touch

Phone: (+44) 0203 735 7629


Twitter: @GrosvenorSquare

Instagram: @GrosvenorSq