New Public Spaces – from the Open Brief to first designs

The Castle Car Park without cars. A view that makes it easier to imagine the new public spaces to come.

Designers have started work turning the My Castle Gateway New Public Spaces Open Brief into first designs.

Last summer many conversations, walks and events were turned into an Open Brief for the new public spaces in the Castle Gateway area. The Open Brief describes what people would like to be able to do in the new public spaces and sets out some of the complex challenges that the design process would need to resolve.

The New Public Spaces Open Brief is a very different document to the sort of brief from which architects and landscape designers would normally start. In December the process of the turning the Open Brief into preliminary sketch designs started with a meeting with the designers from BDP. This gave us a chance to talk through the brief in detail, explaining where or who different ideas came from, and delving into detail in terms of the complexities and challenges.

We asked Matthew Costa, Landscape Architect Associate for BDP to share their initial perspectives on both the challenges and the process of responding to the public brief.

‘The open brief is both refreshing and reassuring; as designers our role is not to create what we think is right or looks good. Our role is to interpret the aspirations of others so that a meaningful place is created for those that will use it. Consultation/engagement in the traditional sense usually allows the most vocal voices to have the most input, the Open Brief, and its ongoing process, allows this to be a more balanced conversation.’

Andy Kerr, Head of Regeneration for City of York Council added:

‘We are excited to start the design work for the new public space for the city around Clifford’s Tower. We look forward to testing the initial concepts against the Open Brief, and to sharing updates from the design team as they work through the design process.  Castle Car Park and the Eye of York is a big space and filling it in a meaningful and welcoming way is both a challenge and a huge opportunity to improve the space around some of the country’s most important heritage.

We will launch the next phase of My Castle Gateway later this month.  Running through Spring/ Summer 2021, this will engage residents in the design of the new public space, and will look at where can meet the aspirations in the Open Brief, and where any challenges might be.’

We’ll be setting up events and other ways to get invovled in shaping the intepretation of the Open Brief into design ideas in the coming weeks.

2 thoughts on “New Public Spaces – from the Open Brief to first designs”

  1. Again it seems, possibly not intentional, but in the language. A Straight Question = a STRIAGHT answer “aspirations” sound Yes but No chance. I know some ideas may well have gone under the Carpet.

  2. Have we lost the battle to keep the building at the back of Fenwicks less obtrusive? Blocking off intervisibility between Fossgate bridge, Piccadilly bridge and Cliffords Tower despite the reference to ‘important views retained’ in the master plan seems a real missed opportunity.


Leave a comment