Opportunities with Leicester Square makeover scheme

The design industry is set to benefit from a £10m makeover of London’s Leicester Square, which will see the space redesigned as a family-friendly entertainment area.

Environmental design consultant Gillespies is leading the scheme and Pinnagers is developing the lighting strategy.

More appointments are likely to follow as external designers are drafted in to create other key elements for the square, such as art installations and architecture-led pieces.

Westminster City Council last month unveiled a series of concept designs to make Leicester Square into an attraction in its own right for visitors.

This included propositions to remove the statue at the centre, dig up the garden, pave it in granite and build a permanent stage to allow for year-round entertainment.

It will implement more modern street furniture across the square and install lighting that changes colour to provide a ‘constantly evolving environment’.

The open-plan square would accommodate seating for up to 1000 people, or standing room for 4000 visitors. The aim is to host more film premieres, performances and exhibitions throughout the year.

Gillespies plans to ‘jump into the scheme design’ stage imminently and is currently working up design details, following a series of client consultations, says John Coyle, senior landscape architect.

‘We are testing ideas at the moment, looking at application and prototypes. It is in the detailed design stage,’ he adds.

The scheme is dependent on Westminster Council attracting millions of pounds in sponsorship from entertainment companies.

A shortlist of potential sponsors will be drawn up by October, with a view to ‘discussing contracts’ before Christmas.

The revamp could go hand in hand with plans for an upmarket casino and the redevelopment of the Swiss Centre as a hotel and shopping centre.

Leicester Square

• Attracts up to 250 000 visitors daily

• The square is currently ‘underused as an entertainment space’

• There are plans to make it a centrepiece of outdoor activity

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