NE1 in conjunction with Newcastle City Council, Robinson Landscape Design, and the St Nicholas Cathedral have lead the refurbishment of the public space that lies between Moseley Street and St Nicholas Cathedral as part of a citywide improvements scheme.
“St Nicholas Square has to be a part of the city that is also a part of the Cathedral.” We envisage the square as a single space, which entails the removal of existing boundaries, the raised plinth and the access lane. This will make the Cathedral visually more accessible from the streets and the streets part of the setting for the Cathedral. This is to be executed in a contemporary and uncluttered manner that takes its form from the rhythms and patterns of the Cathedral elevation and the 19th century Italianate building that stands on the eastern edge of the square. The use of bench walls of sandstone as seats will allow the square to become a daily usable seating space while retaining flexibility as an events area. The high quality of materials used at The Monument will be reflected in this design through the use of sandstone and granite.
Removal of the existing plinth is crucial in opening up the square. The loss of the existing trees is therefore unavoidable. A more controlled line of planting with trees will be created so that there would continue to be a planting barrier to the main traffic junction, but not so great an obstruction to views of the cathedral from the Groat Market. The introduction of raised planting areas would be necessary to give definition and protection to the north western edge of the square, where traffic issues are most intrusive; but otherwise, the space was to be unbroken by steps. Planting would be introduced in the churchyard of the cathedral as had been the case in the 19th century. This would be of a controlled and architectural nature. Planting proposals are for beds of clipped box (Buxus semperivens), edged with pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis). A line of pleached hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is proposed for the western planting bed. A large area of grass is proposed within the planter containing the statue of Queen Victoria: both as a simple visual device and as useable space for relaxing.
The major visual concept is the introduction of a light burst pattern (of granite) in the central space, aligned with the northern door to the Cathedral. The idea has derived from the lantern of the cathedral (St Nicholas being the patron saint of sailors) and may become a centre point for Easter vigils and other cathedral events.
The Construction: Newcastle City Council
Newcastle City Council are carrying out the works and these will be completed by Easter 2011.