Shapes Van Gogh Walk in southwest London is joint winner, with Burns + Nices Leicester Square City Quarter, of the inaugural Placemaking Award 2013 for Design Excellence
Van Gogh Walk is described by Shape as ‘a reincarnation’ of Isabel Street SW9, designed as ‘a special outside space in an area of London where many people do not have their own garden’. The landscape celebrates the fact that a world-famous artist lived here, says the practice, ‘and that he enjoyed walking, gardens and nature as a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city’.
Planting and features are inspired by Van Gogh’s paintings, and quotes from the letters he wrote when he lived in Isabel Street are carved around the edges of the planters. Cypress and olive trees, grasses, and colourful shrubs and perennials were planted in March 2013 and will become established over the coming months and years.
Burns + Nice says its redesign of Leicester Square, which also clinched LI’s 2013 President’s Award, ‘offers the opportunity to consider the gardens, the square and connector streets as one entity, creating a coherent public realm that has re-established its identity and appreciation as a new urban space within central London’.
The award was intended, it says, for ‘a project that demonstrates how high quality design was used to improve a place with long-lasting impact on the local environment and how investment was attracted’. The scheme also needed to demonstrate value for money and best practice in planning and implementation.
According to Burns + Nice, its design for Leicester Square is responsible for a 42% fall in reported crime and a 5% increase in footfall. ‘It has renewed the confidence in the area of investors and existing businesses and in so doing helped create a successful mix of an attractive public realm that is truly public and free to use, surrounded by family oriented businesses, event infrastructure and new large investment schemes’.