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A Perpetual Pride Luke Whitaker

Writtle School of Design Landscape Architecture BSc Design Dissertation

May 2013

luke. Landscape architecture


Landscape architecture

A Perpetual Pride Luke Whitaker

Writtle School of Design Landscape Architecture BSc Design Dissertation

May 2013 07890553570 Honeysuckle Cottage Middle Duntisbourne Cirencester Gloucestershire GL7 7AR United Kingdom

A Perpetual Pride A Contemporary Rethinking of Soho Square

Site Context

By Luke Whitaker Dedicated to Freya For putting up with her absent boyfriend


Student Number: Course: Project: Lecturers: Date:

98075879 Landscape Architecture Comprehensive Design Project Steve Terry, Tim Waterman 18.05.2013



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Project Introduction

Social Context United Kingdom

strategy for the reconfiguration of historical urban squares in

(2007) the needs of communities affiliated with Soho through

response to a changing social context. The project argues that the

residency, commerce and culture are addressed. The underpinning

philosophies and principles guiding the design of many historic

philosophy of the document calls for collective respect and

urban landscapes are non-resonant with the idiosyncrasies of

cooperation between interrelating and coexisting community groups

modern popular culture and the contemporary needs of society.

as ‘One Soho’ seeks to retain and enhance the uniqueness that defines

Taking a conceptual approach, this project aims to utilise the

it. A continual strand that emanates through a document that

surrounding cultural and social context to drive a design that

umbrella’s cultural subdivisions including opportunity, order,

unpacks and re-configures a historic urban square to complement

enterprise and renewal is the need to support and augment the

the people who use it. The selected site is Soho Square, City of

vibrant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Westminster, London. Applying a contemporary treatment to a

LGBT community needs are made explicit within the Soho Action Plan

historic landscape will inherently prompt practical and functional

centred on broad support to action a report examining the feasibility

enquiries into, and the development of, strategies that may

for a London community centre for the LGBT Community, a

succesfuly marry the old with the new. Whilst these strategies will

fundamental LGBT support facility identified by Kairos in Soho (KiS)

form a framework within which the design can be formed, it is the

(Westminster City Council, 2007). Despite the significant LGBT

social context which will need to be addressed and understood in

presence in Soho, it is recognised that positive, public images and

order to produce a public landscape that champions the

expressions of the LGBT community are rare, suggesting a rationale to

contemporary needs of the people who use it. This has advanced a

encourage LGBT community led public art and the requirement for a

further enquiry into the social context of Soho Square.

public exhibition space (Westminster City Council, 2007).

Central London Soho Soho Square Tottenham Court Road

treet Oxford S


Within the Soho Action Plan prepared by Westminster City Council

g Cross Charrin

This comprehensive design project will provide an alternative design

u sb e t af Sh 0



e nu e v yA



Soho Gay Village

Commercial Retail Cafes

Soho Square

Oxford Street

Independant Retail

Tottenham Court Road



Commercial Retail Cafes Independant Retail Restaurants


2 Wardour Street



Charring Cross Road




Night Clubs

1. The Edge 2. Candy Bar




3. The Gay Hussar

Old Compton Street

4. Centrepoint Greek Street 5. The Pillars of Hercules




6. G-A-Y

8 10

12 14


7. Ku Bar 8. The Admiral Duncan



9. Comptons of Soho 10. Freedom Bar Soho 11. The Village 12. Escape Bar 13. The Yard

LGBT Entertainment Venues





14. The Enclave

A Perpetual Pride Making the Visible, Visible Soho is considered to be one of London’s most culturally and

Many of the Pride parades are fivilous, satrical and humourous in

Geographically Public Space

‘Pride Parades’

socially diverse districts. A recognised component advancing this

nature, helping them serve as an event for both homo- and

Temporary LGBT Public Space

cultural richness is the vibrant LGBT community (Westminster City

heterosexual consumption (Enguix, 2009). They do however fail to

Assumed Heterosexual Space

Council, 2006). It is however acccepted that even within urban

challende the heterosexual omnipresence of public space of a

villages appropriated by the LGBT community globally, public

permanent basis. Considering this and remembering the invisibility

expressions reflecting and celebrating there presence are rare

of LGBT expressions with the ‘gay village’ it can be understood that

(Enguix, 2009; Westminster City Council, 2006). This has advanced a

a current public space doens’t evenly represent the sexualities of

conceptual exploration into the dynamics of public space and the

the people who occupy it. This project will create design that

LGBT community.

suggests a public space that firslty celebrates the LGBT community

‘Gay Village’

LGBT and Heterosexual

Politically Private LGBT Space








assumption of the public realm.

As Pride Parades serve to promote civil rights and popularise public oppinion towards the LGBT community, their temporary occupation of public space serevs as a paridigm of the relationship

Through the omnipresence of heterosexuality it can be assumed

between the LGBT community and the public realm (Brickell, 2000).

that heterosexuals will use the public space within gay villages. This

It is widely accepted that for Pride Parades to succesfully challenge

ostensive heterosexual invasion of socio-politically private LGBT

the Heterosexual assumption of public space they must occupy

space could however be positive. Through heirachial spatial design

space outside of the ‘gay village’ (Brickell, 2000; Johnston, 2005;

and LGBT imagery, representation, symbology and program a

Enguix, 2009). This suggests that, whilst acknowledging the terms

geographically public space, politically de-privatised by inviting a

‘public’ and ‘private’ are socio-political constructs, regardless of a

heterosexual presence, could provide a socio-politically public

geographically public location ‘gay villages’ are politically private

space which permanently and pleasantly challenges the

space (Brickell, 2000; Enguix, 2009).

heterosexual assumption of the public realm.

Permanent LGBT Public Space

Tottenham Court Road


Soho Square

treet S d r o f x O

g Charrin

LGBT Socio-politically Private Space

‘People grow only by the processes of encountering the unknown’



Sennett, 1986 cited by Shaftoe, 2006

Soho Gay District

A Concept Contextualised With an estimated residential LGBT population of 7-10 % and a regional, national and international LGBT visitor base, Soho is home to a thriving gay community (Westminster City Council, 2006). Soho

Leicester Square Av en ue

Square stands as the LGBT communities primary geographic public

Sh af t es bu ry

space. With its proximity to the new Crossrail development at Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street it is well placed to form the visible and public centre of the LGBT community. Tottenham Court Road

treet Oxford S

Trafalgar Square

g Charrin

Cross 100m






LG GBT Socio-politically Public Space

LGBT Socio-politically Private Space

Leicester Square

Nationally Political Space

Soho Square

Corporate Entertainment

Cultural Diversity

Soho Gay District Corporate Space

LGBT Socio-p polittically Publiic Space


Trafalgar Square

*Elevation Not to Scale*

A Perpetual Pride Soho Square: The Site The lawn serves as a popular relaxation spot for visitors, especially on sunny days. It also provides a year-round ‘green’ space within a heavily urban context

12 large mature Platanus x hispanica exist within the central garden area of Soho Square. They add aesthetic character and ecological benifit and must be retained within the reconfiguration.

Several Statues and scultures exist within the Soho Square central garden. The staute of Charles II is listed and must remain with a potential relocation. The sculptural presence should be celebrated within the new design

The 1970’s plaza area to the south of the central garden area is dated in both form and material quality. Maintain the plaza concept but considered relocating and re-forming

Listed mock Tudor hut used as tool shed and a defining feature of Soho Square. Currently acts as focal point and centre piece of the Square. Must be retained and potentially relocated.

56 benches are located contained within the peremeter railings at the periphery of the central garden and on the southern plaza. This provides a large seating capacity but makes the square ‘inward’ facing, reducing the connection between the garden and the street.

1 2

The majority of surrounding buildings are Offices suggesting evening and weekend noise levels won’t be problematic



A complex one way traffic system encompasses the Square with key larger free flowing traffic on the bordering roads of Oxford Street, Chaarring Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue and Regent Street. Any treatment to the traffic flow will have to be well considered.

There are three listed buildings adding historical merit to Soho Square which must be celebrated: 1. The Manor House. Built in 1840 2. House of St Barnabas. Built in 1746 3. Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick. Built 1893

The Tottenham Court Road Cross Rail development running directly beneath Soho Square is estimated to increase daily passengers from150’000 to 350’000. This suggests a heavier pedestrian traffic using the site and a rationale to explore pedestrianisation

Site Issues

‘Fine Grained’ connecting streets are cluttered and uninviting with limited opportunity for medium - large vegetation

The surrounding buildings and mature large London Plain canopy limits available sunlight creating spaces of heavy shade

The 1932 London Squares Preservation Act outlines a requirement for tyhe design to include lawn and iron railings on a granite plinth

Conflict zones exist between pedestrian and vehicular circulation with the surounding road serving as a spatial barrier to the square.

Cultural Development Multi-culturalism


Oxford Street

International Cuisine

Soho Square

Live Entertainment

Thriving LGBT community

Greek Street

Old Compton Street

*Elevation Not to Scale*


A Perpetual Pride A Strategic Framework

Spatially celebrate buildings with historic merit

Merge the boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the square

Make entrances to central garden wider and more inviting

Visiblise LGBT imagery and symbollogy ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the square

Respect and maintain historic central garden footprint

Activate the edges and central garden area

Retain historic design principles including four lawns divided by central pathways

Introduce contemporary uses for historic structures

Strategic Foundations

Strong conceptual and functional foundations underpin the design and balances the practical needs of the site with artistic expression. The concept is largely informed by theoretical discourses on the nature the LGBT community and public space during Pride Parades. Making a distinction between geographically public space and politically public space, ‘A Perpetual Pride’ provides a public space capable of reproducing the positive social and political impacts of Pride Parades 365 days of the year. Located within Soho’s gay village the project assumes Soho Square as a politically private space (Johnston, 2005; Enguix, 2009). Conceptually, the social requirement to provide a public space that provides a permanent challenge to the heterosexual assumption of public space requires occupants

A Destination and Gateway

of the space to read and experience the symbology and metaphor imprinted upon it. It has also been established that conviviality, humour, symbology, encounters with the unknown and the removal of barriers between homo- and heterosexual identities serve as the most successful methods for achieving this challenge (Johnston, 2005; Enguix, 2009). It therfore is fundamental to the design’s success that ‘conviviality’ is achieved. The prioritisation

of the pedestrian has been identified as a strategy for achieving this. Shaftoe (2008) claims that the removal of vehicles provides for a more convivial, people friendly atmosphere. Shaftoe (2008) continues to state that whilst form, facades and vegetation serve to allure people to a place, the biggest attraction is other people. It is then self-evident that reducing the number of vehicles the street could catalyse an increase in occupants at a pedestrian scale. This would also allow occupants to read the symbology and interact with ‘the unknown’. IFP (2013) place the ideal travelling speed to process sensory impressions at 5kph, claiming that the human sensory apparatus is programed for a pedestrian pace.

Designing For Conviviality 0m

facial features and expressions can be seen (Shaftoe, 2008)

Provide shelter and protection

Celebrate the theatrical

Pedestrian Movement

0 30m

Maximise seating potential




Human movement can be interpreted (Shaftoe, 2008)

Opportunities for people watching


Areas of relaxation

Prioritise the pedestrian *Elevation Not to Scale*

A Perpetual Pride Finding the Form

The Development Process


Exclusively Heterosexual

“It is a characteristic of the human mind that tries to dichotomize in its classification of phenomena….Sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal, socially acceptable or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual; and many persons do not want to believe that there are gradations in these matters from one to the other extreme.”

Exclusively Homosexual

The design process centred around recreating the spatial condition of both an individuals sexual awakening and the ‘coming out’ process. The concept of public and private space was made tangiable by applying varrying degrees of enclosure throughout the site. To spatially create the spation condition of being ‘out’ and ‘in’ the Kinsey Scale was used. The kinsey scale provides a model of sexuality which argues that few individuals sit within the commonly accepted heterosexual and homosexual subdivisions of sexuality but exist on a continuum of vary bisexual responses (The Kinsey Institute, 2013) . This continuum suggested a spectrum of sexxual identy that, whilst providing metophor for diversity, provided a spatial platform to guide the design process.

The Kinsey Scale

Varying Bisexual Responses

(Kinsey, 1953, cited by The Kinsey Institute, 2013)






Spectrum Rainbow

Ideas developing degrees of enclosure commenced the design process.

Distinctions between Heterosexualy assumed public space and LGBT private space were made.


Exploration of the spatial condition of being ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the closet.




6. Desirable circulation coupled with the applied spectrum created a central plaza space

Exploration of circulaation and degrees of enclosure were made, using the Kinsey ‘spectrum’ to dictate form


Indentations to the four lawn areas were made. These exploraations investigated the idea of having both politically private and public spaces within the squaare

The Process Simplified



Enlarge the central garden.

Apply the public / private distinction.

Apply the ‘Spectrum’ of sexuality.

Insert the desired pedestrian circulation.

Spatially celebrate historic buildings and create ‘Public Plaza’.

Insert continuous seating.

Blur the boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the central garden.

Apply LGBT symbology inside and outside the central garden.

A Perpetual Pride A Design Proposal The Masterplan

reet Oxford St

A Gateway to Soho


Soho Square

in Charr

‘A Perpetual Pride’ is designed for and inspired by Soho’s vibrant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Through metaphor, symbology and programme this project

ss Roa g Cro

produces a public landscape that champions the contemporary needs of the people who use it. Prompted by LGBT requirements outlined with the Soho Action Plan (Westminster City Council, 2006), ‘A Perpetual Pride’ presents London‘s alternative public space, celebrating not only the LGBT


community, but the richness of cultural difference. Soho is recognised as one of London’s most culturally and socially diverse districts (Westminster City Council, 2006). Coupled with the ongoing Crossrail developments at the neigbouring Tottenham Court Road Station this proposal provides Soho Square with a much needed contemporary landscape redesign. Concieved through the belief that the original design philosophies and principles of many historic squares no longer resonate with the idiosyncrasies of modern popular culture (Ward Thompson,1998; Edensor, 2002), this proposal also provides practical strategies that successfully marry the old with the new.

St ho eet Soford Str




Running Rill

Continuous ‘Lounger’ Seating

Functionally the Rill increases the desirablity of the narrow roads, conceptual it symbolises public visablity gravitating towards the square. delineates Soho Street

wd o R oa

n tR r u o utt m Co

Sottenha alk

The Central Plaza Loading Bay

Loungers provide further seating capacity with the central garden

The Public Plaza The public plaza spatially celebrates The three listed buildings in the square whilst providing a metophorically political space

The Tudor Cafe The Tudor Hut will be given a contemporary use, retrofitted to serve as a cafe on non-event days

Continuous Back to Back Seating

The Tudor Cafe

Continuous benches increase the seating capacity of the square whilst delineating the central pathways

Sliding gates gate the square during closure hours and provide the potential to restrict access for ticketed events.

T in W 1M

Detailed Area

The proposal removes existing parking to enhance the pedestrian experience of the square. The loading Bay’s provide essential service points for the buildings

Sliding Gates



The Queer Plinth The ‘Queer Plinth’ provides the LGBT community a platform to public sculpture and imagery





t S le


s i l r a

The Rainbow


A large Arch provides an easily interpreted LGBT expression whilst offer an over head plane for lighting during events

ek Gre

S ton mp Co alk Old in W 2M

The Poetic Divisions


Wooden divisions inscribed with LGBT poetry spatially the lawns segment the lawns

The Central Plaza The central Plaza is a multifunctional, hard wearing space which provides the potential to hold large events

Taxi Rank Moped Parking





Site Functionality



An area for Moped parking, provides further accessability to the square



ton mp Co lk Old in Wa 2M


A designated area for Taxi collection and drop off retains vehicular accessability to the square

Primary Circulation Secondary Circulation Central Circulation

Primary Circulation

Lounger Seating

Loading Bay

Back to Back Seating

Taxi Rank

Single Bench Seating

Moped Parking

A Perpetual Pride A Celebration of Sexual Diversity Championing the LGBT Community Through programme and functionality the design provides a convivial space that invites in and pleasantly challenges the heterosexual omnipresence of public space. With visible LGBT symbology imprinted upon the landscape at its least ‘A Perpetual Pride’ is an important celebration of the LGBT community and at its most, provides a perminant challenge to the heterosexual assumption of the public realm. Symbollogy imprinted within Soho Square ensures that the LGBT commnity, a key ingredient to the richness of Soho’s cultural fabric, are reprsented and celebrated. The Rainbow provides a piece of easy to interpret symbology whilst providing a protective spatial barrier over London’s most diverse square. The ‘Queer Plinth’, named to draw a whimsical parrallel with Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, provides a platform for members of the LGBT community, and members of Soho’s minority groups, to project imagery of emerging indentities to the public. A

Private Space

The Tudor Cafe


Public Space

The Rainbow

The Queer Plinth

Multifunctional Central Plaza

Soho’s Gay Garden

LGBT Imagery

The Public Plaza The Public Plaza serves as an important element of the

Multifunctional Central Plaza

design proposal on a functional and conceptual level. Functionally, it provides a spatial celebration of Soho Square’s rich historic fabric, plithing St Patrick’s Church, the House of St Barnabas and the Manor House. It also provides

The Public Plaza

a spatial prompt, forging a direct connection with Greek Street, the most direct thourough fare to Old Compton Street, Soho’s LGBT cultural centre.

The Queer Plinth

Conceptually it provides a politically public platform and a space that challenges the Heterosexual omnipresnce of public space. Housing the ‘Queer Plinth’ the Public Plaza addresses the apparent invisibility of LGBT imagery within the ‘Gay Village’ identified by Enguix (2009).

As a

programmatical and physical solution, the Queer Plinth allows LGBT identities the freedom of artistic expression whilst cementing the presence of LGBT community into Soho’s urban fabric.

Scale: 1:200





A Perpetual Pride Detailing the Design Planting Strategy A


The planting strategy is both conceptually and functionally informed. Whilst micro climates, site location and site conditions dictate the planting palette, the concept has informed the choice of plant sizes, textures and growing habits.


Detailed Area

Conceptually, the design proposal celebrates cultural and social diversity, setting the site up as the

Planting Plan

threshold between cultural conformity and cultural expression. This concept has led to the inclusion of more wild plants set against a backdrop of vegetative formality. The central garden planting, designed to blur the boundaries between 'inside' and 'outside' the square, is afforded structure and seasonal interest by the central common beech hedge (Fagus sylvatica). The woodland planting adjacent to the beech hedge provides wild, naturalistic forms. The sweet box (Sarcococca confusa) adds further evergreen structure to the planting whilst the


shield ferns (Polystichum setiferum) bring a semi-evergreen, course textured drama to the scheme (RHS, 2013b). Contrasting fine textured plants are added to the planting palette with the selection of great woodrush (Luzula sylvatica 'Marginata') and fringe cups (Tellima grandiflora), both plants that are semi evergreen and, with a breeze, bring movement to the scheme (Gardiner's World,


2013). This luscious and shade tolerant scheme is further complimented by the introduction of colour with bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis), a hardy, herbaceous plant with heart


shaped rose red and white flowers in the spring and summer (RHS, 2013b).


10.280 9.800


The Planting Plan 10.690


Tellima grandiflora Polystichum setiferum

Luzula sylvatica 'Marginata'

Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Buxus sempervirons

Fagus sylvatica


Tree Retention

Hard Landscaping

BB Sliding gates at the four entrance have both concpeptual and functional foundations. Serving as an obvious reference to degrees of enclosure they will allow for ticketed events

800mm x 200mm light granite paving provides a directional, hard wearing surface.

100mm x 200mm granite pavers connect the landscape with the architecture through scale and colour.

600 x 600 york stone flags contrast the direction paving and define nodal gathering points.

to be managed and held in the central garden. 11 of the 14 London Plane (Platinus x hispanica) will be retained. 3 trees have been strategic identified for removal. The removeal of the selected trees will increase available sunlight to the square. The removal also allows for a hard wearing treatment to be applied on the pedestrian paths and central plaza.

A. The public Plaza and ‘Queer Plinth’ provides a politically public space that challenges the heterosexual assumption of public space

London Plane (Platinus x hispanica) to be removed

A Perpetual Pride Realising the Space




A. The Home of Gay Pride

C. Somewhere Under the Rainbow

The Sexual Spectrum

A. Soho’s Cultural Centre

The Tudor Cafe

A Perpetual Pride A Place for Entertainment

A Dynamic Space for a Dynamic Public A Flexible Public Space

A perpetual Pride provides Soho with a trully flexible public space. In reponse to Soho’s cultural and social diversity the design proposal provides a multifunctional space that allows for the expression of all of Soho’s cultural richness. A space that can accommodate Soho’s thriving international cuisine industry on one day and stage a jazz festival the next, a Perpetual Pride is a public space design for both the people and the place. Designed using recognised strategies for conviviality identified by Shaftoe (2008) a Perpetual Pride embraces the vibrant culture and liberal attitudes of Soho. With increased back to back seating surrounding the central area spatial refrences are made to


The central plaza accomodates temporary structures and seating which provides for a programme of events 356 days of the year. With the potential for a temporary bar around the Tudor Hut the square can host a range of festivities.

Soho’s theatrical inclinations whilst providing a platform to encourage people watching. Varying degrees of enclosure divide the space providing a spatial spectrum which offers the occupants the choice of exhibition or retreat. Vehicular access around the site has been reduced without impeading architectural services. The reduction in cars will stimulate a larger pedestrian permeation of the site which will stimulate a snow ball

The Village Green

effect. People attract people (Shaftoe, 2008). Embraced by the Rainbow Arch, the square will be able to grow with an ever evolving public and provide a continued and permanent reference and celebration of the LGBT comunity. Dedicated to diversity, a Perpetual Pride is London’s alternative public space.



With the recognition of Soho as an ‘Urban Village’ (Westminster City Council, 2006) the central space provides an ‘Urban Village Green’ which will centre the community and allow for a spectrum of cultural expressions.


An Evening Programme



The Rainbow Arch provides a functional elegant structure which houses lighting equipment facilitating an even programme. The central; plaza can bring Soho’s famous entertainment industry into the public realm.

The Rainbow

The Queer Plinth

References Brickell, C. (2000). ‘Heroes and Invaders: gay and lesbian pride parades and the public/private distinction in New Zealand media accounts’, Gender, Place and Culture, 7, (2), 163-178. Enguix, B. (2009). ‘Identities, Sexualities and Commemorations: Pride Parades, Public Space and Sexual Dissidence’, Anthropological Notebooks, 15, (2), 15-33. Gardeners World (2013). Plant Search [www.document] (Accessed 10 May 2013).v Giddens, A. (2006). Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press. Johnston, L. (2005). Queering Tourism. Paradoxical Performances of Gay Pride Parades. London: ¬¬¬-Routledge. Kinsey Institute (2013). Kinsey’s Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale [www.document]. (Accessed 20 April 2013). Royal Horticultural Society (2013). Plant Selector [www.document]. (Accessed 10 May 2013). Shaftoe, H. (2008) Convivial Urban Spaces; Creating Effective Public Spaces. Earthscan: London. Westminster City Council (2006). Soho Action Plan. London: City of Westminster.

luke. Landscape architecture

Thank you for Reading

Luke Whitaker Writtle School of Design Landscape Architecture BSc Portfolio of Works

2010-2013 07890553570 Honeysuckle Cottage Middle Duntisbourne Cirencester Gloucestershire GL7 7AR United Kingdom

Landscape Architecture Dissertation: 'A Perpetual Pride'