groundbreaking for Space Consultancy / Live Strategy / Live Communications

groundbreaking was a consultative business to help create first class spaces for delivering and hosting events. They described themselves as space consultancy with space activation consultants. David Norris, a Director of Groundbreaking from March 2011 – October 2013 explained the creation of the company as follows: The world of property & regeneration needs a groundbreaking approach to live activity & space design in order to maximize potential. For several successful years groundbreaking filled that niche. Groundbreaking, a dedicated sub-division of Ear to the Ground also founded by David Norris, was designed to tackle challenges currently faced by the property regeneration sector with three distinct services. Space Consultancy / Live Strategy / Live Communications.

This was their website advocating and promoting the work of groundbreaking. The current page has been constructed from its scant archived content, outside sources and pr releases. It's an acknowledgement of the work that the team of groundbreaking did.

Originally located at:

11-13 Spear Street
M1 1JU.
+44 (0)161 237 9786.

10-11 Clerkenwell Green,
+44 (0)203 131 2992


The world of property and regeneration needs a groundbreaking approach to live activity and space design to maximize its potential. In groundbreaking's first eighteen months we have won clients such as: Argent, Ask Developments London Legacy Development Company, Field Operations, Manchester City Football Club, MediaCityUK and The Co-operative. It has been an incredible beginning and we are looking for great talent to take the business forward and on to the next level.

We are a consultative business that advises and guides property developers, from public realm to sports stadiums, on the planning of their projects to help create first class spaces to deliver and host events.

groundbreaking is recruiting due to its very successful first eighteen months.

Managing Director

A unique opportunity to lead a unique company, groundbreaking, part of the Ear to the Ground group, are looking to recruit a brilliant business leader to develop its space consultancy and space activation business.

Working with a range of clients from property developers, architects and estate management through to sporting clubs, producers and event agencies we are looking for someone who is ambitious, entrepreneurial, innovative, focused and passionate about working in property.

Head of Space Design

A unique opportunity to work with a unique company, groundbreaking, part of the Ear to the Ground group, are looking to recruit a brilliant architect or landscape architect to our team to head up our space consultancy.

We need someone who is passionate about good public realm design and its use as performance and event spaces. You will be a qualified Architecture or Landscape Architect with a minimum of two years post qualification experience, keen to take on the responsibility of running projects from fan zone design to space consultancies for new public realm spaces


As a landscape architect I was interested in the design of Granary Square, the public square that is the heart of King’s Cross. it is part of the larger King's Cross Central development. Granary Square is often cited as an example of a privately owned public space in London. The main attraction at Granary Square is undoubtedly the fountains. At the time of the square's development I was heavily influenced by minimalism, having read numerous posts on the subject. I especially loved a kind of spoofy post by Rev Sale titled In Search of Nothing that drove home that concept for me even more. Nothing is an important idea that deserves respect. The idea is more than minimalization - more of a philosophy where meta was key. Hidden or masked structures were the goal in place of showy, attention grabbing statements. I was just starting to work the notion of nothing into my designs when I received an offer of a position in London, so I quickly settled my affairs and made the trip. The second day I was in London I visited Granary Square. The square is animated with over 1,000 choreographed fountains. Each are individually controlled and lit! The fountains are spectacular in the evening when the light show begins. And during the days in the summer, the square transforms into an urban beach. It is impressive. With a year-round program of events, performances and activities, Granary Square remains a remarkably vibrant public space.



groundbreaking Projects News

groundbreaking Hosting Hang the DJ


30 Mar 2012

David Norris, director of space consultancy and space activation consultants Groundbreaking reveals the perils and pleasures of hosting Hang the DJ, the hottest ticket at MIPIM 2012.

Sometimes I do wonder if we have spawned a bit of a monster. For the last five years Ear to the Ground and its property and regeneration division, Groundbreaking, have hosted our annual Hang the DJ party, predominantly but not exclusively for the Manchester delegation. Five years in it's become the hottest ticket in Cannes – where everyone in the property industry wants to be when the sun goes down.

This year's party at Club Sparkling in Cannes attracted over 700 delegates and their friends. As ever the theme was simple – leading figures from the property and regen industry pick their three favourite records and at some point during the evening play them to an ecstatic dancefloor.

This year's superstar DJs included Urban Splash's Nathan Cornish and Tom Bloxham, Argent's CEO David Partridge, and Matt Fairman from Assembly Studios as well as an unprecedented two sets from the Drivers Jonas team. The party went on until 5am.

In 2011 we were close to stopping doing Hang the DJ. The recession had hit hard and we weren't sure it was appropriate in that climate. But just a little research revealed that there were still a vast number of property people, architects, masterplanners etc who wanted to come. And with the launch of our groundbreaking service in 2011 we now really wanted to meet them with a new and exciting offer borne of ten years of live event experience.

Is it worth doing in these recession hit times? I suspect yes though sometimes the success of the party runs the risk of overshadowing the purpose of it. A straw poll on the door this year revealed that about 40% of people coming in knew who we were. That's a lot of follow up work after the event for our staff.

MIPIM remains a fantastic place to set out your stall and space consultancy is a unique offering that has yielded real financial rewards for our clients. Nonetheless the offer does take a bit of unwrapping and Hang the DJ gives us the chance to get on people's radar and talk to them about what they do. Only one year in we've got to work with The Olympic Park Legacy Company, Ask Developments, Argent on their huge 67 acre King's Cross development and the Co-Op.

Given that we are a specialist organisation with a niche offer we have decided that it's best that we hang the expense and Hang the DJ.


2012 NEWS

Students at Central St Martin's behind King's Cross station have a bit more space to stretch their legs, with the partial opening of Granary Square. The cobbled plaza, roughly the size of Trafalgar Square, stretches from the college's Granary Building down to the Regent's Canal. The scheme by Towns­­hend Landscape Architects includes a row of dancing fountains, a grove of boxy trees and a stepped terrace down to the canal. Stone benches, floodlighting and the occasional bike rack complete the scheme.

The Square offers a large open space for general mingling and lingering, but will also be used for performance events. Two pavilions at either end of the square have yet to be completed.

This summer saw the opening of Granary Square, a new outdoor space in London close to St Pancras International station.  The Square is operated by Groundbreaking on behalf of Argent, and Aria is pleased to be a part of the team bringing live music to the area.   The Kings Cross Regeneration project has created a place for living, working, leisure and learning on former industrial and railway land, and Granary Square is an integral part of this transformation.  It provides a welcoming place to spend time surrounded by the revitalised original Victorian architecture and the attractive new buildings.  The campus for St. Martins College of Art and Design, housed in a former 19th Century warehouse, forms the northern boundary of the Square and the Regents Canal flows along the southern edge.  Aria provided the sound management and liaison with Camden Council Environmental Health for ‘Eurostar presents Traction’ curated by Gilles Peterson in July, and ‘Africa Express’ in September featuring performances by Damon Albarn, Rokia Traore, Amadou and Sir Paul McCartney amongst many, many others.  We think that Granary Square is an excellent place to see and hear music outdoors in the heart of the city, and wish everyone involved every success for the future.