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Greg’s Place: York unveils vibrant new community hub

Posted on 8 October 2015

The University of York will unveil a new outdoor community space on 27 October, supported by former Chancellor Greg Dyke during his final year in office.

Greg's Place visual (credit: SoVibrant)Greg's Place visual (credit: SoVibrant)

The day of new Chancellor Professor Sir Malcom Grant’s inauguration will provide the opportunity for a first look at Greg’s Place, on Vanbrugh Piazza at the heart of Heslington West campus in advance of the official opening of the space next Spring.

The Vanbrugh Piazza, an original feature of Andrew Derbyshire’s masterplan for the University of York in 1968, provides an important lakeside view and recreation space on campus. Ironically nicknamed over the years as ‘Vanbrugh Paradise’, a new design project has now transformed it.

Providing a focal point for Open Days and Graduation days, Greg’s Place will offer an innovative space to host and view art installations, open air cinema, pop-up activities and performance for students and visitors alike.

Building on research from the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, careful planning of lawns, planting, seating and crosswalks has created a creative and ecologically sustainable area.

Gordon Eastham, Grounds Maintenance Manager at the University of York, said: “Greg’s Place provides a brilliant new community hub at the heart of our campus on Vanbrugh Piazza – previously long regarded as an eyesore. Working with TGP Landscape Architects, we implemented a design with habitat creation and biodiversity as a primary focus.

“In terms of sustainability, several soft landscaping features contribute to our ecological management aspirations for campus. The rain garden is irrigated with rainwater captured from surface water drainage and channelled into the planting beds, and plant species chosen are attractive to bees and other pollinators. This dovetails well with several other bee-friendly plantings on campus, and will contribute tremendously to our application for Green Flag status again next year.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of York, said: “Greg’s Place on 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, and I hope it will also become a space enjoyed and used by our community every day.

“I am enormously grateful to Greg Dyke, and our other benefactors, for being so supportive of this initiative that will have a truly transformational effect on our student, staff and visitor experience.”

Students, staff and members of the public will have the opportunity to sample Greg’s Place when the University of York formally welcomes its sixth Chancellor, Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, with a day of celebratory events on 27 October.

The inauguration day will showcase the University’s excellence in research, teaching and the student experience through talks by academics, performances by University clubs and societies from 6.30pm at Greg’s Place, culminating in a fireworks display at 7.45pm. All students and members of the public are invited to attend, with free tickets available at:

Ben Leatham, YUSU President, said: “We are delighted to work with the University to ensure that Greg’s Place becomes a space 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.”

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