The Kings Walk project is an upgrade and ‘reactivation’ of an outdated 1970s shopping arcade, located in central Winchester. With a range of new features, including a green courtyard area, improved lighting, and bold graphics, the scheme was delivered through a JCT Intermediate Building Contract.
The improvement to Kings Walk Arcade is the first part of a wider scheme of works under the Winchester Central Regeneration Programme. Kings Walk was suffering from a lack of footfall and an increase in antisocial behaviour, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The appointed design team, Studio Multi, worked closely with the client, Winchester City Council, as well as the tenants of the independent shops, cafés, restaurants, creative agencies and a listed Victorian community theatre, The Nutshell, who were also adapting and growing their businesses post-COVID.
The project’s aim was to address the physical external spaces and, as such, the works include a new secret garden in the courtyard area, the introduction of improved and consistent signage and wayfinding, replacing existing lighting with new low-energy lights, and adding new feature lights in key areas.
The upgrade has resulted in the more effective integration of the Nutshell with the rest of the Kings Walk Arcade and an improved appearance to the façade and entrance along Silver Hill, including the repainting of brickwork and replacement of doors to the rear entrances of shops.
The Nutshell courtyard and Silver Hill area have been given a makeover through the use of a bold, ground-level graphic plus new signage, lighting and planting which visually ties the entire development together.
The design takes a creative and sensitive approach with its use of colour. In the areas of Kings Walk where there are existing busy visuals, neutral colours have been used to provide a uniform backdrop. In contrast, where the design team felt that more animation was required, such as along Silver Hill, a new graphic motif has been employed.
Low-energy lighting has been incorporated, including illuminated readograph signs with slide-in letters to identify particular shops. The planting introduces a biodiversity element to a series of hard spaces which previously lacked any reference to nature. Planters have been designed to be easily redeployed in other parts of the arcade, if required.
Graeme Todd, Corporate Property Manager, Winchester City Council
“Winchester City Council decided to use the JCT Intermediate Building Contract (IC) to deliver the Kings Walk upgrade as it is a well-recognised form of contract which both the Council and the contractor were familiar with and have used on many occasions.
“The IC form was used for this project as it was better suited to the scope of works for Kings Walk, not least because it involved working around a dozen different retail units and the Nutshell Theatre. The option of sectional completion – which allows parts of the project to be handed over in stages – was key to ensuring that the impact on the various retail businesses and the theatre was minimised while the works took place.
“Although as a local authority we use other forms of contract, the JCT IC has generally been our preferred contract for this type of project. For Kings Walk, we used the contract in its standard form; we made no amendments and did not need to add any client clauses.
“For the initial design component, the various consultants were managed in-house by the client project management team at Winchester City Council via a separate, professional agreement. However, the same Council team also administered the JCT contract for the works to Kings Walk. The project was procured using a main contractor who, in turn, managed the various sub-contractors.
“The project has been a great success. Kings Walk Arcade has been revitalised and no contractual issues arose as part of the works. Nonetheless, it was reassuring to have a JCT IC contract in place should we have needed to call upon it to deal with any disputes or delays.”
Nicola Rutt, Director, Studio Multi
“The key to making the Kings Walk re-activation project successful was to work closely with the Council and tenants and make as big an impact as possible using the available budget.
“Studio Multi’s role in this public realm project was to assemble and manage the design team and guide the vision through from concept to completion. Our collaboration with other small, creative practices such as to-studio, Light Follows Behaviour and Tim George Graphic Design aimed to push each design element beyond what was expected and bring an element of surprise and joy to passers-by.
“The front terraces have been activated by the owners of the independent café, restaurant and cycle hub that open onto them; the courtyard is more hidden and needed an intervention to draw people in.
“Our response to this challenge was to create a secret garden with large, circular planters, readograph signs, light globes and bright, colourful graphics. As well as small trees and a range of different plants, fast-growing hops have been planted and trained to climb up and along a 3-dimensional network of cables. These soft landscaping features will, over time, transform this courtyard into an immersive green space.
“Budget constraints have currently limited the transformation to the ground floor areas of Kings Walk, with a datum at first floor level. It is hoped in future the whole of Kings Walk will undergo a more comprehensive transformation as part of the Central Winchester Regeneration project, but until then we are confident that our relatively modest intervention is already helping to reinvigorate a previously tired and unwelcoming space.”
Cllr Martin Tod, Leader of Winchester City Council
“It’s fantastic to see the early improvement works completed for Kings Walk. Studio Multi’s work has been transformational, creating a vibrant and attractive space for the businesses and visitors to the building and surrounding area. We’re committed to regenerating this part of the city and supporting the independent businesses based in Kings Walk. Studio Multi’s design has helped us do both.”
- Start on site: May 2023
- Completion date: August 2023
- Form of contract: JCT Intermediate Building Contract (IC)
- Construction cost: £290,000
- Architect: Studio Multi
- Client: Winchester City Council
- Main contractor: Leaves Construction
- Other consultants: Light Follows Behaviour – Lighting Design, Tim George Graphic Design – Graphics and branding
- Landscape consultant: to-Studio
- Project manager: Winchester City Council
- Principal designer: Studio Multi
- CAD software used: Vectorworks
Images: Andy Stagg