Approximate Map Location
Luton Borough Council
|Type of scheme|
Civic Trust Commendation 2008, BCSC Gold Medal for Town Centre Environment 2007
Artas-ua.info and public realm design to renovate major town square.
Artas-ua.info and Lead Consultant: GillespiesEngineering: Mott MacDonaldLighting: EquationWater Feature (post completion): Fountain Workshop
Luton Borough Council
St George’s Square is at the vibrant heart of the regeneration of Luton’s town centre. Gillespies won a major design competition to redesign this key public space for the town. The design concept delivered a creative response to the unique cultural context of this site, including the town’s rich hat-making tradition.
The challenge was to revitalise what had been an under-utilised and undervalued space, a space that people would walk around to avoid rather than visit. The new design fundamentally repositions the square in the minds of the community. Aside from the enhanced look and feel of the space, a wide cross-section of society now occupies it during the day and night. The balance between vehicular and pedestrian movement has been completely altered with the pedestrian given priority. As a principle, the design is simple, uncluttered and responsive to the character and history of Luton.
The design ‘weaves’ together elements of the space to form a series of innovative interventions within the square. Design was driven by existing and proposed lines of movement to unlock and reopen the space. The visual containment of the square was achieved through careful manipulation of level changes and stepped edges to bring the focus of attention on a new central plaza space that regularly hosts a range of organised events, including Luton’s international carnival. A feeling of safety has been achieved through careful appraisal of the sightlines to ensure no areas are hidden from view whilst a consistent palette of materials reduces street clutter. The selection of an innovative type of light mast, which is used in the centre of the square, can effectively light the central area single handed.
People now take time to stop in the square and sit a while in a safe and comfortable urban space.
Since opening the Square in 2008, Luton has seen a significant change in the attitude of people to open space. The Square has become the heart of the town with many events, festivals and markets organised throughout the year. Surrounding retail units have started to open up their activities towards the square with several cafes securing outdoor seating areas from the Council thanks to the new shared surface. The Arndale Centre has now built a new entrance on the eastern side allowing people to enter at grade (previously a dead façade) which has brought the animation planned at the outset for the main central space.
Further landscape work was added post completion, with the introduction of a much-loved water feature in the centre of the space and the continuation of the shared high quality surface up to the busy High Street. St George’s Square has proven to be a great catalyst for the planned regeneration of the town and will continue to lead the way in showing how landscape can have a positive impact on people.
Stone and hard landscaping:
Black / Mid Grey / Silver Grey granite pavements and plaza
Avenue trees to shared surface street were Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'
Fitzpatrick (Main contractor)