Sovereign Square, Leeds

Sovereign Square is the first new public space to be developed in Leeds for over a decade and the first ever urban park in the area.

As part of the high profile project, Hardscape worked with re-form Landscape Architecture, Leeds City Council and Eurovia Contracting Ltd to create a contemporary public space adorned with water features, greenery and seating areas surrounded by attractive paving and hard landscaping features.

The new square, which was formerly a pay and display car park, provides the public with an attractive, open space conveniently located next to Leeds train station and the River Aire.

The brief

Situated on the line of an old water channel from the River Aire that once powered industrial mills, the designs for the Sovereign Square scheme reflected the area’s deep-rooted heritage and culture.

Leeds City Council was keen to feature locally sourced materials where possible and Hardscape’s role was to select and supply paving materials that would complement the surrounding landscape and contemporary architecture.

Water formed a key element of the scheme and Hardscape worked closely with The Fountain Workshop and Re-Form Landscape Architects in the early design phase to select the most appropriate material colours and finishes for the planned water features.

Materials used

The dynamic fountain plaza is linked to the River Aire by a 100m long bespoke water rill which flows through the square. Working with the local council and Re-Form, Hardscape supplied Crystal Black Granite with sawn edges and a flamed, cropped top surface to create a ripple effect when the water tumbles over it. The material’s naturally occurring patterns provide an extremely durable and uniquely attractive surface.

Sandstone, Fagley Yorkstone, sourced from a nearby quarry in Bradford was selected for its buff coloured appearance and impressive technical properties to create the paving, copings, steps and kerbs. Satisfying the desire for locally sourced materials, the sandstone contains eye-catching warm-coloured bands formed from compacted particles settling in sandstone formations, with a naturally strong bond making it ideal for wet environments.

Results

The inspired space brings together light, water and greenery in a welcoming setting at the heart of Leeds city centre. The area offers fantastic facilities and transport connections attracting a high volume of pedestrian footfall making hardwearing and durable paving essential. The opening of the square was a cause for celebration in the area and Leader of Leeds City Council, councillor Judith Blake said: “Sovereign Square is a wonderful breath of fresh air in a very densely-used, busy section of the city centre.”

Managing director at Hardscape, Mathew Haslam commented, “It was great to collaborate with the other parties involved to produce the many special bespoke items for this stand-out city-centre scheme. We worked hard to ensure that the materials selected would do the complex plans justice to create a fun yet functional space. It is promising to see the importance that was placed on the use of local materials and we hope people will enjoy the square for years to come with paving that will stand the test of time and act as a reminder of the area’s natural resources.”

Location

Leeds

Client Team

Re-Form Landscape Architects, Leeds

The Fountain Workshop, Chatham