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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 118 - Rejuvenating a public space

118 - Trafalgar Square, London

Through careful research-based design the Trafalgar Square redevelopment has produced a highly successful civic space.

The Trafalgar Square redevelopment is the first phase of Foster and Partners World Squares for All masterplan, the main stated aim of which is to reduce the conflict between people and cars. The design was based on extensive research and consultation, including traffic and pedestrian movement studies, undertaken using Space Syntax’s pedestrian movement model. This identified why both Londoners and tourists failed to use the space and informed the development of design solutions. The closure to traffic of the northern edge of the square has linked the National Gallery with the existing square, transforming it from a traffic island into a major urban space.

After completion the square was soon incorporated into pedestrian movement patterns leading to an increase of 250% in pedestrian movements within the square itself, and an increase of 100% in local movements. There has also been a rise from 1.3% to 9% in people who use the square as a through route. Londoner’s identification of the square as a destination has also changed whereas previously 1.9% saw Trafalgar Square as a destination this is now 17%. Since completion the square has hosted numerous public events including the Summer in the Square programme and is now a notable public space within London’s urban fabric.

Other Information

  • Location: London Borough of Westminster
  • Project Team: The Mayor's Transport for London plus the Heritage Lottery Fund. Masterplanners& Architect - Foster and Partners. Spatial Design Consultants - Space Syntax. Developer - Fitzpatrick (works implementation)
  • Contact:


UDC2 Section - Integrated Design 

The Trafalgar Square redevelopment has transformed an existing traffic island into a major urban public space with an increase in activity of 250%. 

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