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Gillespies renews public space in the heart of London

Landscape architects Gillespies, designers of the award-winning public realm and landscapes at the RIBA Stirling Prize-shortlisted NEO Bankside, have designed a new public square at the foot of the RSHP-designed Leadenhall Building in the City of London.

Originally won through a design competition back in 2012, Gillespies were commissioned by client The Leadenhall Development Company Ltd, City of London and Aviva, to rejuvenate the existing key thoroughfare which sits at the historic junction of Leadenhall Street and St Mary’s Axe. The new square – which at 3,325m² is the third-largest open space in the City – provides a world-class setting for a number of iconic buildings, including 30 St Mary’s Axe, The Leadenhall Building, The Lloyd’s Building and The Scalpel, a 35-storey tower currently under construction. The square offers enough open space to accommodate exhibitions and performances.

Gillespies’ design for this pivotal space restores the sites unique authentic character, but offers a contemporary interpretation. High quality paved ramped and tiered pedestrianised walkways provide generous connections, simplifying the flow of people through this key thoroughfare. Curved stone planters – filled with colourful planting that varies in height, colour and texture – animates the space, with integrated seating providing opportunities for visitors to pause and relax.

At night, the square is transformed through light installations that imitate ‘swaying reeds’ in the wind. The redesigned space has reinvigorated the area, creating a fresh, appealing and multi-functional plaza for people to enjoy.

Commenting on the design, Steve Wardell, managing partner at Gillespies, says: “I am delighted to see St Helen’s Square completed and opened. This is the third largest open space in the city of London and performs on a number of fronts as a busy through route, as the address and front door to a number of major city buildings, and as a place for people to sit, enjoy and relax, particularly in the spring and summer months when the varied plant species will emerge and look their best. We hope it will become a much-loved space at the heart of the city.”

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