Exchange Square

designed by /

Location: London / UK / Type: Infrastructure / Parks / Squares and Plazas / Built: 2022 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on April 20, 2024

A major new public park for the City of London, suspended above the tracks of Liverpool Street Station, the creation of Exchange Square marks a significant milestone in a seven-year collaboration between DSDHA and British Land that has successfully transformed the public spaces of Broadgate.

Well-being and inclusivity were vital considerations throughout the design process, driven by the ambition to create a vibrant space that encouraged engagement and interactivity. In purposefully slowing the pace of this intensely kinetic space, Exchange Square offers respite from the onslaught of commuters at Liverpool Street Station and the noise of Bishopsgate, allowing for leisure and relaxation surrounded by nature, as well as extending the hours of use of the square, helping to make Broadgate a seven-day destination, and providing a major new public park for the City of London.

Helping the city to breathe:

Exchange Square is the culmination of DSDHA’s Broadgate Public Realm Framework plan for British Land, which has demonstrated the crucial role the public realm can play in establishing a new identity for a site – from an office-led campus to a truly mixed-use, creative environment with a broader mix of uses. Fundamental to its success will be breaking down perceived barriers to surrounding areas of the City, and to encourage a more diverse group of people to use the public spaces through new planting, seating, lighting, high-quality materials, and more opportunities for temporary uses and events.

Bringing nature and wellbeing to the fore, in balance with technology, we have designed an informal open-air space in which to, meet, celebrate, work and relax surrounded by greenery. It will foster creativity and conviviality and welcome new audiences.

Well-being and inclusivity were vital considerations throughout the design process, driven by the ambition to create a vibrant space that encouraged engagement and interactivity, and offered respite from the onslaught of commuters and the noise of Bishopsgate.

The 1.5-acre park provides a four-fold increase in planting from its previous state – 14,000 plants and over 140 different species – a 600% increase in biodiversity, and 25% of the area features accessible green space. An onsite gardener encourages continual learning – offering opportunities for enquiries and involvement from the wider public, whilst maintaining the square.

We sought to address issues of accessibility and permeability by celebrating the various gateways into the park. A comprehensive analysis of pedestrian movement helped identify barriers to access – steps, changes in level, lack of visual contrast and changes in tactility, and poor signage – informing our response of unfolding the space across several levels to create a more naturalistic topography, with gently sloping routes that allow wheelchair and pushchair access across and through the whole site.

Legible material differences at changes in level supports neurodiverse users and clear sightlines across the park from all borders allow users to feel safer when crossing alone or at night.

Engagement with tenants revealed the desire for a less corporate environment with more flexibility for temporary uses, resulting in a more diverse group of people being encouraged to use the space, such as for a community Open Iftar celebrating Ramadan.

We evaluated embodied carbon throughout the design and construction process, reducing it by 61% from RIBA Stage 2 onwards. The hard landscaping, forming the majority of the design carbon impact, was reduced by 26% from RIBA Stage 4 onwards. Whole building embodied/wholelife carbon (KgCO₂eq/m²) totals 182.5

Circular economy initiatives, including the reuse of materials on site, were equivalent to a 220tCO2e saving.

Project Data 

Architect, Urban Designer and Landscape Architect: DSDHA

Other designers involved in the design of the landscape:

Public Realm Framework: DSDHA
Horticulture: FFLO
Project Manager: Stace Project Management
Structural Engineer: Arup
M&E Engineer: Arup
Lighting Designer: Speirs Major
Planning Consultant: DP9
Cost Consultant: Gardiner & Theobald
Ecology Consultant: Greengage
Access Consultant: David Bonnett Associates
Contractor: Maylim

Project location: London, UK

Year completed: 2022

Photo credits: Daniel Fisher

Streetview may show the condition before the intervention

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