5 Ways Jubilee Square Leicester Brings Spaces Back Together
Article by Nour Adel
Jubilee Square Leicester, by LDA Design, in Jubilee Square, Leicester, UK
Every day new, modern, beautiful public parks are being constructed, unfortunately, they don’t always relate to the old historic buildings and cultural assets which give a city its identity and uniqueness. In the early 1970’s, a new inner ring road and the construction of St Nicholas Circle destroyed the medieval urban grain of St Nicholas Place, turning it into a peripheral space, and isolated the river and castle area from the city centre.
Jubilee Square in Leicester city is a dynamic new piece of public realm which has succeeded in re-connecting the heart of the city of Leicester to its heritage.
Jubilee Square, designed by LDA Architects, has been created on the site of a car park. The aim of the square is to re-connect the heart of the city to several important historic assets.
There are five main approaches that I believe make this simply designed square serve as a melting pot for the city.
Jubilee Square Leicester
1. It Provides Easy Pedestrian Access Points
Jubilee Square connects the city together and improves pedestrian accessibility. Key pedestrian desire lines and visual axes were mapped. The route between the Cathedral and St Nicholas Church, a diagonal line across the space, defines a paved area to the north relating to High Street, and a green-lawned area to the south.
A second diagonal route reinforces links between High Street in the city centre, the university, and the Magazine Gateway area. New routes also ease the connection to bus stops and the multi-storey car park. It is like a transit zone which you need to pass through before reaching your final destination, whether it is St Nicholas Church or Leicester University. These interconnected links improve access and make it easier for pedestrians to get where they want to go.
2. It Brings People Together
“Landscape architecture can’t force people to connect, it can only plan the crossing points, remove barriers, and make the meeting places useful and attractive.” – Denise Scott Brown
That being said, although the main target was to link the spaces together, it has also managed to link the individuals together. It has been designed to be a new hub for recreation and relaxation. The scale of the space, the anticipated footfall, and the need for flexibility of use all pointed the design team towards a hybrid hard and soft space, with large lawns and a paved area.
It provides a lot of seating areas and it is becoming a new hub for lots of the city’s main events. The square is designed to accommodate a full programme of public activity throughout the year, from festivals and summer fairs to a big wheel and an ice rink. Given the popularity of the new space, it was the natural place to start the victory bus parade for the 2015/16 English Premier League champions, Leicester City Football Club.
3. It Makes Functional Use of Levels
Site levels were built up at the highest point to help screen the traffic on St Nicholas Circle and to create a hard paved space edged by a flight of shallow steps, tapering into the natural slope. The levels falling across the lawned area to the southern and western edges add to the sense of dynamism.
The northern part of the square is paved in porphyry, with the relocated High Cross pillar as a new focus. Vehicular access to Highcross Street is provided as a shared surface, defined by coordinated street furniture on either side. Three long, south-facing communal bench seats have sunny views over lawned and paved areas. To the south, Wygston’s House, Leicester’s oldest timber-framed building, now belongs to the public realm, with new railings and low planting replacing a wall.
4. It Lifts up Leicester City’s Economy
Jubilee Square has been designed to reinstate a critically important gateway into the city and transform connectivity; it re-stitches some fine historic assets including the Cathedral, the Castle Gardens, the Jewry Wall and St Nicholas Church.
The investment is part of a mayoral initiative to create a high-quality built environment for the economic and social benefits it brings. Jubilee Square has transformed access to the modern Highcross shopping centre, De Montfort University and the waterside area
5. It Features a Wide Variety of Beautiful Plants
When it comes to landscape and planting design, there has been a strong emphasis on horticultural distinction, with large new beds filled with Agapanthis inapertus intermedius, Aster azureus, Carex testacea, three different types of Echinacea, Liatris aspera, Parthenium integrifolim, Ruellia humilis, Themeda triandra and Tritinia disticha.
A canopy of mature trees include a large specimen Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ Liquidambar styraciflua, Catalpa bigonoides, Gleditsia triacanthos, Carpinus betulus ‘fastigiata’, and Amelanchier lamarckii . On top of this a historic Arbutus unedo – Strawberry tree – is retained.
To sum up, this minimalistic square in Leicester serves as an example of how landscape and urban design can articulate the space so as to serve the surroundings and emphasize the city’s historical assets by joining different areas of the city together, just as if they are puzzle pieces.
Full Project Credits For Jubilee Square Leicester :
Project: Jubilee Square Leicester
Landscape Architect: LDA Design
Design Team Leader: Robert Aspland, Benjamin Walker, Tim South
Lighting Designer: Sutton Vane Associates
Location: Jubilee Square, Leicester, UK
Commissioned by: Leicester City Council
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
Article by Nour Adel
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