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st john’s precinct, blackpool

Revamp public square

Re-design of St John’s Precinct in Blackpool, UK 
Winning competition entry and subsequent commission

The proposal for the new design of the precinct includes the application of the shared-space principle, giving privilege to pedestrians and creating a flexible space for markets and events, as well as providing seating in the shade of mature trees. The focal point of the scheme is the New Horizon sculpture, a spiral-like steel work with a mirrored surface capturing the light from the sky and sea.

The design concept aims to enhance and improve urban life for the benefit of the local community and visitors, both of whom contributed to the intensive public consultation exercise.

The design scheme of our winning competition entry was further developed to tender stage. Design services based on the Council’s maintenance and management policies and leit-werk’s risk assessment include several pavement strategies for different materials and construction principles. The surface was specified to meet RNIB requirements with regards to the ‘shared space’ design and kerb treatment. The sculpture was developed with specialist engineers and contractors in respect to construction and health & safety policies.

Seashell refraction/illumination

In Blackpool, light is celebrated, not only in the annual Festival of Light, but everyday upon the beach. Seashells are well known for their optical reflectivity, which presented us with the starting point for a series of light explorations. In essence, we hope to conjure up a sculpture that performs within the use parameters of the project.

After multiple trials we fine-tuned a sculptural setup, which from certain points fills the viewer’s vision with reflections of the sky, the horizon and the sea. During the Blackpool Illuminations the artwork also draws the light from the Promenade back into the town. Essentially, the geometry reveals itself as exposed yet enclosed; an interior space with maximum refraction. The horizon dissolves the actual condition of the site, within the continuity of a space of light.

The square itself is clearly defined into an un-programmed open event space in front of Winter Garden and an area for cafes and restaurants, shaded by new trees.

  • scope of work International Design competition, winning entry; Design concept, detail design, tender documentation (RIBA C - F)
  • client Blackpool Borough Council
  • partner Packman Lucas Structural Designers, Schoenaich Landscape Architects, WSP Development & Transportation, Arup Lighting, interpretations
  • working period October 2007 - July 2008
  • site capacity 5,520sqm
  • construction costs GBP 3.5m
  • tags civic
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