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Winner revealed in major Grosvenor Square contest

Grosvenor Square
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Tonkin Liu has won an invited competition to transform Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, central London

The practice – founded by Anna Liu and Mike Tonkin in 2002 – was chosen from a six-strong shortlist which included Diller, Scofidio + Renfro of New York, SANAA of Tokyo, Muf Architecture/Art, Eric Parry Architects and Dan Pearson Studios.

Organised by developer Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, the invited contest sought ideas to revamp the Grade II-listed 2.5ha square, which is expected to get a new lease of life following the transformation of Eero Saarinen’s former US Embassy into a hotel by David Chipperfield Architects.

The invited competition followed an earlier open call for concepts which was held in 2018 and received 153 entries. Teams participating in the 2018 open call included Spark Architects, Eric Parry Architects, Grid Architects, Jamie Fobert Architects, Jan Kattein Architects, BDP, Weston Williamson + Partners, Klassnik Corporation and ZAP Architecture.

Participants in the final contest were both selected from entries to the open call and invited from further afield. Judges included Deborah Saunt of DSDHA; David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates; former Serpentine Galleries chief executive Yana Peel; Ed Ikin, the head of landscape and horticulture at Wakehurst for Kew Gardens; and Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics.

Liu said: ‘As Londoners and as architects, we are thrilled to be part of this important moment in time, for the transformation of Grosvenor Square through an ecological and community agenda. Having responded to the shared vision put together by Grosvenor, local residents and Londoners, we will use nature and collective storytelling to deliver a vision of local and universal resonance.’

James Raynor, chief executive of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: ‘Grosvenor Square’s original purpose was to bring the countryside to the city; it was the first of its kind and caused a sensation. However, today it provides limited benefit to Londoners, their well-being or the environment. Now it can once again become the capital’s most outstanding green space.

Tonkin Liu has an impressive track record as a sustainable design studio

‘Tonkin Liu has an impressive track record as a sustainable design studio, and as a champion of the garden square and public participation. We are excited to work with them on this project.’

The contest was part of a 20-year vision announced by the multibillion-pound estate – which is owned by the 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.

Images of the winning and shortlisted proposals have yet to be revealed. Grosvenor will now work with Tonkin Liu and local stakeholders to further develop designs ahead of a planning application next year.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • "...we will use nature and collective storytelling to deliver a vision of local and universal resonance".

    Collective storytelling? 🤨

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  • So that’s a few ‘crazy’ benches and some bedding

    Saw the headline and thought it was something significant

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