What’s happening in Albert Square?
Albert Square is being redesigned: it’s an essential part of the Town Hall and will make a key contribution to our overall objectives. We’ve looked at what people love about the square, and also considered what doesn’t work.
Our objectives for Albert Square are to:
- create an enhanced 'destination' and setting for the Town Hall, connecting Albert Square with St Peter’s Square and Lincoln Square,
- enhance the civic and heritage qualities of the square,
- provide a high quality public space, providing places for people to spend time,
- provide appropriate security measures and create a safe space,
- improve the inclusiveness and accessibility of the public spaces and building entrances,
- improve the function and flexibility of the square,
- encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport,
- provide green space to enhance quality of life and achieve carbon reduction objectives, and
- improve legibility, create focal points and key views.
What are the challenges that need to be addressed with the future design proposals?
- the current priority for traffic, and the extent of road in the square,
- big events, like the Christmas Markets and MIF, limit pedestrian routes and access,
- the ugly concrete barriers,
- the condition of tree roots and lack of potential for continuing growth,
- lack of underground services,
- unsuitable surfaces and sub-bases, and
- poor visibility and sight-lines, and too much clutter.
So what’s planned?
Trees and planting:
In-depth surveys and analysis have been undertaken, to assess the health and condition of the trees in the square, and their associated benefits and constraints. The results recommend that we remove some of the existing trees due to poor soil conditions and already raised paving, where roots have pushed up. But some will be kept, and new trees will also be introduced to uphold the green character of the square. Planting will be introduced around the fountain to create a restful and sheltered place to sit. Overall, we aim to include in our designs some of the many benefits of urban green space, such as helping to deal with air pollution and the effects of climate change, increasing biodiversity and improving mental health and wellbeing.
Lighting, seating and furniture:
Our plans for lighting comprise even and efficient lighting to the square and its surrounds, ensuring safety and accessibility after dark; an important part of the security plan. In addition to its functional role, the design will emphasise and define architectural features, monuments and the fountain, or event-specific decorative lighting. Bespoke lighting columns will be positioned to the edge of the square, minimising visual clutter and providing uninterrupted sight lines into the square and to the Town Hall. Heritage columns will be restored and refurbished, and ambient lighting provided to other features.
Seating will be provided across the square, and close to the main pedestrian routes, with sections included that feature back or arm-rests, and varying seat heights. Technology will be incorporated within the street furniture and lighting, and the square will include flexible infrastructure for future hi-speed services including wifi and 5G Installations
Albert Square Entrance:
New, inclusive public access to the main Town Hall entrance will be created, improving the connection between the square and the building. It will combine gently graded slopes (1:24) and stepped access with handrails.
Cooper Street Entrance:
A similar approach has been applied to the reopened Cooper Street entrance, incorporating stepped access and an accessible graded footway. The simple design is intended not to
detract from the Town Hall facade or nearby Cenotaph. Regular engagement has taken place with key stakeholders throughout the process including access and conservation bodies.