Case Studies

Broadgate Spaces, Life in public places

Year
1990

Client
Rosehaugh Stanhope

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"A natural solution made commercially obvious."

Simon Harris
Simon Harris & Co

Broadgate is the largest office development in the City of London, built around a series of pedestrian routes and public spaces. By taking a place-based approach, Broadgate broke the mould for property development in the UK, where the market had previously created sterile, inward-facing and car-oriented office complexes.

Space Syntax was appointed following completion of the first, highly successful phase of Broadgate, designed by Arup Associates. Developer Stuart Lipton wanted to know whether, and to what degree the success of the development was down to its physical and spatial design, so that lessons learned could be applied in subsequent phases.

Space Syntax took a three-part approach to answering this question: first, observing pedestrian movement and space use patterns as well as questionnairing users; second, building a Spatial Accessibility Model of the development and its wider urban setting and third, undertaking statistical analysis of the data produced through observations and spatial modelling.

We found that around three-quarters of everyone sitting in the development’s main public spaces were not Broadgate employees but instead people from the wider area who had chosen to be there from an average 5-minute walk away. When we looked at patterns of movement, we saw again that around three-quarters of all movement was simply passing through the development, not originating from or destined for one of Broadgate’s buildings. It seemed the key to Broadgate’s success was the way it appealed to people in the wider context.

Our spatial analysis demonstrated that pedestrian activity was facilitated by the open, grid-like layout of Broadgate, with direct routes connecting into the wider street network.

The key lesson of the Broadgate study was that urban life could occur in highly commercial urban development if such development were simply laid out and directly connected into the wider context. This knowledge allowed Space Syntax to engage with the design of the later phases of Broadgate such as Exchange Square. We recommended changes that were subsequently implemented – and we have been assisting in the evolution of the development ever since, most recently advising British Land on the redevelopment of 5 Broadgate, including the redesign of Broadgate Arena, the central open space where many of our findings were made nearly 25 years ago.