Trafalgar Square

©Nigel Young/Fosters & Partners
©English Heritage

Region: London

Local Authority: Westminster

Owner Type: Local Authority

Funding Body: Local Authority

Summary: The appearance of London's streets and public spaces are fundamental to its success as a world city. The transformation of Trafalgar Square and re-organisation of surrounding streets is a cause for great celebration.

Description: A realistic and achievable vision for Trafalgar Square was needed to make it a healthier, safer and more enjoyable environment. This world famous square at the heart of London was surrounded by roads, noise and pollution- diminishing its significance.
Issue: Proposals to revitalise Trafalgar Square are the culmination of years of work to improve the heart of Britain’s capital. It was recognised that as well as achieving a better balance between the needs of traffic and those of pedestrians, a sustainable transport policy for London must deliver tangible visual improvements to the quality of streets and public spaces. People prefer to live and work in places they find attractive and distinctive and the historic environment has an important role in delivering this. Enhancing Trafalgar Square required a careful balancing act between the ceremonial and the everyday and the old and new.
Strategy: By creating a new pedestrian area between Trafalgar square and the National Gallery, and upgrading or altering many other aspects of the site, Foster and Partners have transformed Trafalgar Square from a roundabout into a grand urban space. Lifts, a café and lavatories have been inserted into the terrace, providing the Square with its first permanent visitor facilities. English Heritage has been involved throughout the process, as a prime mover of the World Squares for All Steering Group, and also as an enabler of change. Our input was important in resolving the complex design issues.
Outcome: This iconic square is once again what it was designed to be: a symbolic focus for every aspect of London life. This has a major impact on its image and status as a world city. It demonstrates that management and design of streets and public areas demand as much care and attention as the control of development on the buildings which enclose them. Specialist urban design and historic environment advice are important components of this.

Keywords: Design in context

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