Case Studies

Nottingham, Old Market Square


Project Director
Kayvan Karimi

Gustafson Porter

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Nottingham Old Market Square on completion

The opportunity

Nottingham’s Old Market Square is one of the largest public spaces in the United Kingdom, with a long history as a focal-point for the city. In recent years, the square had declined in day-to-day use. In 2003, a competition was held for its redesign, which was entered by Gustafson Porter landscape architects, assisted by Space Syntax.

Our contribution

We undertook extensive site analysis and provided public realm design advice to Gustafson Porter. By studying the spatial layout of the square and observing patterns of movement and space use, we were able to show how the design of the space influenced human behaviour. We used this analysis to explain why the square was currently under-performing, especially in its central area, which 78% of pedestrians avoided.

Most importantly, we developed a redesign concept, based on the creation of two large-scale diagonal routes that intersected at the centre of the square. This concept was adopted by Gustafson Porter, who developed a detailed design proposal for the competition submission.

The outcome

Gustafson Porter won the competition to redesign the square, which reopened in 2007. The new design has simple, highly accessible routes that pass through the square from corner to corner, bringing pedestrian animation to the centre.

The project has won many design awards, including the RIBA CABE Public Space Award and three Civic Trust Awards for: Outstanding contribution to the public realm, The Centre Vision Award for best practice in town centre regeneration and the Charcon Hard Landscaping Award.

Pedestrian movement traces

30% of the diagonal movement avoid the centre of the Square

Pedestrian movement traces

78% of the observed movement did not enter the Square