At £25m, the regeneration of Hull’s city centre is one of the UK’s largest and most ambitious public realm schemes. It has helped transform perceptions of Hull and instilled a new pride in Hull’s residents.
Prior to regeneration, Hull was often perceived poorly. The city was struggling to attract investment, in part due to the tired condition and disjointed nature of its public spaces. However, the city’s prospects changed dramatically when they were awarded UK City of Culture 2017. This was the catalyst for change and kick started a demanding programme to reinvigorate the city in time for the start of the festivities.
Arup as Lead Designer and Project Manager, and supported by re-form Landscape Architects, sought to revitalise the city’s public realm through improving connectivity, de-cluttering the streets, and delivering high quality pavements, street furniture and lighting. This worked to unify the city centre, allowing Hull’s historic architecture to stand out and supporting a diverse and energetic street life.
Arup provided a full multi-disciplinary design service including highway design and civil engineering, transport planning, lighting, road safety audits, project management, procurement support, contract administration and stakeholder engagement.
40,000m² of high quality stone has been laid
6 millioncity realm visitors in 2017
1,455city centre jobs created
Delivering a collaborative solution
The team worked together within a complex site to deliver clean, simple solutions which allowed the existing architecture to shine while creating functional and flexible pedestrianised spaces. The revitalised public realm includes 14 streets and four new public squares each with a different character and with the capability to host events for thousands of people. Over 40,000m² of high quality stone has been laid, 60 mature trees planted, two major water features delivered and hundreds of new places have been created where people can sit and enjoy the city.
Hull’s new public realm enhances connectivity across the city, allowing people to move easily from the railway station to the retail quarter, the historic Old Town and the artistic Fruit Market area. This has helped to attract more visitors to the city centre and encourage several new businesses to start up.
A vibrant cultural quarter
The reinvention of Humber Street, in Hull’s Fruit Market area to become a new artistic hub, was one of the most successful elements of the project. This area has been totally transformed, producing a creative, mixed-use city quarter with galleries, street art and independent retailers. This success has been recognised by Humber Street winning the “Great Street” Award from the Academy of Urbanism.
Arup and re-form were a great team. The team had an exceptional understanding of our objectives, and the urban environment. The skills that Arup brought to the project were great, and their passion shone through. ” Garry Taylor City Manager for Major Project and Infrastructure, Hull City Council
Changing perceptions of the city
Along with improving the city’s aesthetics and accessibility, the project has positively changed the perceptions of the city and instilled a new sense of pride in the region’s inhabitants. People are now proud of their city in a progressive and exciting way.
With its improved public spaces and rekindled enthusiasm, Hull’s hosting of the 2017 UK City of Culture was a resounding success. The city regeneration supported a wide range of cultural and social activity. Queen Victoria Square became the city’s main civic space, hosting events and major art installations including ‘Blade’, as well as having a fun fountain within which children can play.
Public spaces were designed to reflect Hull’s rich maritime history, while creating modern landscapes which helps to enable the city’s ambitions of becoming an interesting, world-class visitor destination.
Creating long-lasting benefits
The regeneration of the city positively impacted local businesses and created more employment opportunities. This represents a massive step change and shows Hull has become a place where people want to work, play, visit and live.
Assisted by the public realm project, the economy grew at a record rate, faster than regional and national averages, whilst seeing the lowest unemployment figures on record.
The new public realm has breathed life into Hull and the wider region and the city has regained its vibrancy, its inhabitants their pride. Most importantly, the city now supports everyday life, providing citizens with easily accessible open spaces, cultural hubs to meet and spaces for events and celebration.
People are now taking ownership of their city spaces and developing an appetite for exploration, which is leading them to discover new favourite places. The work has provided us with amazing spaces to deliver cultural events and our programme has inspired people to see their city in a new light. ” Martin Green Director, Hull UK City of Culture 2017