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Architects Appointed To Give New Lease Of Life To Kings Walk Area

Winchester City Council has appointed architects Studio Multi to take forward plans focusing on the upgrade of the Kings Walk Shopping Arcade in the centre of the city. 

The team, led by Studio Multi, which will include architects, landscape architects, lighting and graphic designers, has been selected from a shortlist of proposals aimed at breathing new life into the outdated arcade. The plans will focus on improving retail frontages along Middle Brook Street and Silver Hill, finding an innovative use for the flank wall of the adjacent Friarsgate car park and creating opportunities to improve the open spaces across this key area of the city centre, which is also home to the Nutshell Theatre. 

This approach will result in clear plans to improve the existing public realm and introduce imaginative wayfinding throughout the shopping arcade, making it easier to navigate between different parts of the city centre.

The proposals are currently being worked up in detail by Studio Multi. They will present a design that aims to attract more creative, independent businesses to the centre of Winchester. The design will also encourage street artists and performers to activate the reconfigured public spaces in ways which are both engaging and entertaining for all those accessing the Kings Walk Arcade. 

The upgrade will be delivered through a ‘meanwhile use’ application across an area covering some 1,770 square metres. This will revitalise the area in the short term whilst a procurement process to appoint a development partner for the Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) Opportunity is underway. The delivery of the CWR Opportunity will ultimately result in the transformation and improvement of a larger part of the city centre, including Kings Walk, Friarsgate and Silver Hill.

Studio Multi’s approach is focusing on:

  • Decluttering out-dated signage in Kings Walk and introducing a cleaner, more joined-up visual approach to wayfinding through the shopping arcade and in the adjoining streets
  • Rethinking the way in which the open spaces and courtyards in and around Kings Walk are currently configured (including the removal of the existing perimeter walls) and – where feasible – introducing a small stage for performers and new fixed and loose seating, plus climbers and planters to encourage people to meet and relax in these spaces
  • Replacing the existing solid doors to the rear entrances of shops along Silver Hill with glazed doors (using toughened security glass) to provide a stronger visual link with the shopping arcade for passers-by
  • Repurposing an existing loading bay (currently used for rubbish storage and collection) as an event space for gatherings, cultural events and markets
  • Exploring opportunities to introduce sustainable initiatives such as the reuse of rainwater

Nicola Rutt, Director of Studio Multi, said: “We are excited about working with Winchester City Council to revitalise this key part of the city. Our team combines a range of different design skills which will allow us to create a far more inviting and positive series of spaces than currently exists as well as make a significant contribution to improving the overall character and appearance of the area.  We are also delivering our proposals in a way which seeks to improve opportunities for traders as much as for visitors, while engaging local creative organisations in the design process.  Our particular emphasis is on revitalising the open spaces of Kings Walk and turning them into usable extensions of indoor spaces, not least in response to the increasing demand for such areas in the wake of the pandemic.”

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management said: “While the longer-term plans for the transformation of central Winchester take shape, it is really important to introduce interim ways of making the city centre more attractive to local people and visitors, as well as addressing the reasons for some of the anti-social behaviour which, sadly, currently affects Kings Walk.  This is a great opportunity to give a short-term boost to the look and feel of our city centre and encourage growth of the active creative and cultural community in our area.”

Winchester City Council recently announced that it will be launching the procurement process for a development partner for the regeneration of Winchester city centre, which includes Kings Walk, Middle Brook Street and Silver Hill. The wider transformation of this key part of Winchester aims to bring significant long-term benefits to people living and working in and around the district, including the delivery of flexible workspace, retail and leisure facilities, high quality homes and an attractive public realm.

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