A Tidal Surge of Urban Innovation
In 2022 Kings Square, Gloucester underwent a transformative redesign by George King Architects, drawing inspiration from the world-famous Severn Bore. This case study explores how the project seamlessly blended natural elements, innovative design, and community engagement to rejuvenate a key urban space.
The Severn Bore, a spectacular tidal surge, inspired the design. Renowned for its natural beauty, the bore’s energy and excitement served as a catalyst for a unique urban experience.
The square is defined by sculptural stone waves flowing around its edges. These waves not only provide functional seating and steps but also create a dynamic landscape, ranging from intimate pocket gardens to expansive amphitheatres. Rising and falling, they offer interactive spaces for play, exploration, and performance.
Choreographed jet fountains at the square’s centre mimic the changing moods of the River Severn. Energetic at times, reminiscent of the bore, they encourage play, while at other times, they provide a calm and relaxing atmosphere. The square, with fountains turned off, transforms into a flexible event space, supporting Gloucester’s vibrant creative community.
Building on the city’s historic stone masonry heritage, warm brushed granite sculptural edges pay homage to Gothic architecture. Subtle fluting details add a contemporary touch, creating a harmonious blend of the old and the new.
Hidden lighting elements by Michael Grubb Studio and Kate Ive follow the curved geometry of the stone, casting a subtle, inviting glow at night. Lights integrated into the fountains interact with the water, creating a welcoming evening atmosphere, enhancing the square’s appeal after dark.
Hardscape played a pivotal role, supplying prioritised sustainable materials such as local Forest of Dean Forest Pennant sandstone used for the paved areas, and Magma natural stone granite for the waved seating elements, ensuring the use of high-quality materials that complemented the overall design and all immaculately installed by contractors E G Carter.
A few interesting points:
- The sculptural natural stone wave-edged Magma granite features 885 bespoke pieces, each meticulously drawn in-house by Hardscape’s CAD Design Team, with the feature pieces having a combined weight of 544 tonnes.
- The granite was delivered to site in approximately 20 full loads @ 27 tonnes per load.
- The quarry is located in Fujian, China which is 9733km from Kings Square, Gloucester.
- All materials are EPD verified with registered documentation that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of the materials used.
- The factory production took 19 weeks to complete with a production time of approximately 10,000 hours with Hardscape’s sister company IP Surfaces contributing to the finite process of alignment of some of the wave-edged pieces, both in-house and onsite.
Around the scheme there is complementary soft landscaping referencing the local countryside, promoting biodiversity and providing sustainable drainage.
Kings Square has become more than a public space; it’s a cultural destination. Hosting events such as concerts and food markets, it supports Gloucester’s rich creative community. The square’s adaptability reflects a commitment to community engagement and inclusivity. The space stands as a testament to the successful integration of nature, innovation, and community. The project not only revitalised a key urban space but also created a dynamic, inclusive environment that reflects the spirit and identity of Gloucester.