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Vanbrugh Paradise to be transformed to Vanbrugh Piazza

© University of York

A transformational project to be carried out this summer will revamp the infamous ‘Vanbrugh Paradise’ into a new community hub.

Vanbrugh Paradise on a good day © University of York

The consultation will follow the ‘Giving at York’ week (2nd – 6th March) celebrating past, present and future projects and innovation across campus that are made possible through donations.

Chancellor Greg Dyke has agreed to support the creation of a new community hub on Vanbrugh Piazza. The project will also be supported by the University and other benefactors. The Piazza, an original feature of Andrew Derbyshire’s masterplan for the University of York, provides an important lakeside view and recreation spot on campus. Opened in 1968, it has been well used since, but has recently gained the ironic nickname, Vanbrugh Paradise.

The implement of the new design concept for the Piazza will be during the coming summer. It will provide a focal point for Open Days and Graduation days.  It will also offer an innovative space to host art installations, open air cinema, pop-up activities and performances.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts said,

“Vanbrugh Piazza has the potential to become a truly iconic space on our campus. It is an important backdrop to our Graduation days, Open days, and Visit Days, but it has the potential to also become a space which is enjoyed and used by our community every day. I am enormously grateful to Greg, and our other benefactors, for being so supportive of this initiative. We are currently developing a Master Plan for the whole of Heslington West but securing the funding to transform this space could have a wonderful effect on our student, staff and visitor experience.”

YUSU President Sam Maguire said,

“We are delighted to work with the University to ensure that the ‘Paradise’ becomes a space that will be used by the entire community throughout the year; from pop-up shops to temporary exhibitions. I’m really excited by the opportunities that this project will present for the York community to demonstrate just how creative and enterprising they are.”

The project follows a new partnership agreement with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, established to promote academic and student exchange and the possibility of temporary art installations and artist in resident programmes to add further colour to the space.

Colleagues in the University’s External Relations are working with YUSU, Estates and a wider steering group to deliver the project. The Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) will launch a campaign in the autumn to raise funds to create a Vanbrugh Paradise Enabling Fund to support staff and students to  showcase their creative and enterprising ideas in this transformed, central space.

All staff and students of the University are invited to a Vanbrugh Piazza stakeholder consultation session which will take place in the reception area of the JB Morrell Library on Thursday 12 March between 1pm and 3.30pm.