Background

The City of London is initiating a new Urban Civic Spaces program, which focuses on the development of public squares and plazas in the downtown core, on main streets, and in close proximity to new high density development.

Civic Space: SoHo ‘A Heritage Square’ is the first project in this program. The Design Brief is a conceptual Master Plan for the future civic space. It was inspired from the rich history of the site and adapted with input from residents following two public meetings in 2017. It will proceed to the detailed design phase in 2018 for a planned 2019 construction.

The Community Improvement Plan – Roadmap SoHo has identified opportunities for park land development through the extension of the Thames Valley Parkway, as well as Urban Parks and/or Civic Spaces.

As a part of the Old Victoria Hospital Secondary Area Plan, a mixed-use core is proposed at the intersection of Colborne Street and South Street. As part of this ‘Four Corners’ intersection, a public gathering space is proposed on the northwest corner at 392 South Street. The design of this Civic Space will be integrated with the surrounding streetscape.

The subject site is framed by South Street, Colborne Street, the former War Memorial Children’s Hospital building and the Nurses Residence (to be demolished). Currently the site is a surface parking lot with manicured grass and walkways surrounding it. The site is approximately 22m by 66m (1500m2).

Heritage

Recognition of the former South Street Victoria Hospital site is an important part of this project. The buildings on the site have been local landmarks in one form or another for 130 years. Not only were many of the buildings architecturally expressive and representative of the work of notable London architects, the site also gains cultural heritage significance for the major medical developments, treatments and education that contributed to the history of the hospital and its achievements.

Some artifacts and heritage features were salvaged from the Old Victoria Hospital lands and buildings. Opportunities to incorporate some of these features, physically or symbolically, into the design of the Civic Space will be an important component of this project.

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