Piccadilly Gardens design contest: six teams shortlisted to give Manchester area a ‘welcoming’ £25m facelift

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Their remit is to make Piccadilly Gardens a ‘place for all’ which is welcoming and safe for families and events.

A huge £25m facelift for Piccadilly Gardens is one step closer as six teams are selected for the next stage of an international design competition to create a ‘world class space’ in the city centre spot.

The 10-acre site which Manchester city council invited urban design and landscape teams to submit plans for includes Mosley Street, Parker Street and parts of Portland Street and Piccadilly which run alongside the Gardens.

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The design brief envisages the major city thoroughfare becoming a ‘special place with a strong sense of identity, welcoming and uniquely Mancunian’.

It seeks to make the Gardens a ‘place for all’, where children can play, events are hosted and the tens of thousands walking through it every day feel safe.

The brief also recognises the importance of having a green space in the city centre and calls for planting to encourage biodiversity and improve air quality.

What’s been said about the design contest?

Council leader Bev Craig said: “The area centred around Piccadilly Gardens has the potential to be an outstanding public space where people actively want to spend time, not just hurry through. It can be a more welcoming gateway to the city, as well as a flexible and family-friendly events space.

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“We know it isn’t fulfilling that role at the moment and are looking to bring forward design proposals which will herald significant improvements.

“The shortlisting of these six design teams brings us another step closer to realising that ambition.”

What’s the background?

The local authority has been looking to redevelop the areas around the Gardens which has been associated with anti-social behaviour for years.

Plans to split the concrete pavilion into two separate sections, refurbish the restaurants and install new art on the walls were submitted earlier this year.

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Plans to redevelop Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. Credit: LGIMRA. Plans to redevelop Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. Credit: LGIMRA.
Plans to redevelop Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. Credit: LGIMRA. | LGIMRA

It follows the fall of the so-called ‘Berlin Wall’ at the gardens back in 2020.

The town hall launched an international competition to completely redesign the Gardens almost one year later, inviting submissions since October 2021.

The six teams which have now been chosen to move to the next stage are:

Fira Landscape Ltd

LDA Design

Ove Arup and Partners


Studio Egret West Ltd

West 8

The shortlisted teams will now have until autumn to bring forward their proposals with the successful design team set to be selected in 2023.

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The successful design team will then further develop the plans with the council ahead of the appointment of a contractor to carry out the work.

The design must retain all listed monuments and statues, tramlines and transport infrastructure as well as the existing pavilion. However, there is a longer-term aspiration to relocate existing bus services in Parker Street.

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