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Major competition launched for Grosvenor Square overhaul

Grosvenor Square
  • 5 Comments

Grosvenor Group has launched an open international ideas contest to transform Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, central London

The competition is open to architects, designers, horticulturalists, artists and creative thinkers, and seeks imaginative proposals to transform the historic but often unnoticed residential square into ‘one of the world’s leading public spaces’.

The initiative comes ahead of an anticipated boom in visitors to the area following the planned opening of the Elizabeth Line later this year.  It also follows the US Embassy’s relocation from Eero Saarinen’s building on the square to Nine Elms earlier this year. The vacated building is due to be transformed into a hotel by David Chipperfield Architects.

The contest is part of a 20-year vision announced by the multibillion-pound estate – which is owned by the 27-year-old Duke of Westminster – to transform the elite neighbourhoods of Mayfair and Belgravia into places that ‘appeal to the many, not just to the few’.

Key ambitions within the programme – which will see £1 billion invested over the next 10 years –include upgrading green spaces, public realm and internet connections across the 120ha precinct, and delivering ‘new, adaptable buildings of world-class design’.

At its centre will be a revitalised Grosvenor Square, transformed into ‘a great garden square for Londoners’ fit for the 21st century. The Georgian square was one of the capital’s most fashionable residential addresses until the Second World War, when it became the headquarters of the US-led Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland chief executive Craig McWilliam said: ‘Grosvenor Square should be a defining public space for London. It is London’s oldest garden square and lies at the heart of the West End. However, from our research we know it has a low profile and that as a more welcoming and engaging space it would better reflect the capital’s character and appeal to a broader range of locals, visitors and Londoners.

‘As a business, we are opening ourselves up to public opinion. Our call for ideas is a challenge to urban visionaries of all kinds to help us reimagine the square to recapture its place in the minds of those who visit, live and work in London. Our independent panel of urban innovators and disruptors will review, filter and critique the very best ideas for us to take forward.’

The contest is chaired by Serpentine Galleries chief executive Yana Peel who was recently voted by Vogue as one of the UK’s most influential women.

Competition judges include DSDHA founding director Deborah Saunt; Kew Gardens’ head of landscape and horticulture Ed Ikin; London Design Festival director Ben Evans; Linda Hewson, creative director at Selfridges; and the designer Nicholas Kirkwood.

Peel said: ‘As a panel, we are seeking dreamers, innovators, doers and makers with the imagination and vision to create a truly meaningful and accessible legacy for London. This is a thrilling opportunity to make your mark in the heart of the city, open minds and help inspire a new generation.’

The deadline for applications is 26 October.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: cornertocorner@grosvenor.com

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • Tip from talking to Grosvenor: nothing too barmy, too commercial or too much of a crowd puller, please. Tough brief.

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  • “Those submitting successful ideas will have the chance to have their expertise, ideas and team publicised by Grosvenor. They will also be offered the chance to work with Grosvenor to refine their submissions, which in turn will inform the detailed brief for any formal design competition Grosvenor wishes to run.” - Multi-billion pound Grosvenor Estates Brief

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  • On a wander through the square last week the word that came to mind was ‘arid’, in both the atmospheric and literal senses of the word. Not sure a submission from an ex-QS would be accepted. But here we go - lakes and rose gardens twined with paths leading to a modest central pagoda/bandstand selling tea and buns.

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  • @JULIAN MANEV
    Seems an odd offer to Design Teams?
    Even if they win/ are shortlisted:
    - no prize being offered
    - no sense that they will be part of the final design competition that thier ideas and proposals are being used to inform.
    How does that work?

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  • Yes, it seems like a very unclear offer. Stating there is no assurance in being involved in the project nor a financial reward.

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