This is great news. Aberdeen should have …

Comment posted Aberdeen votes by narrow majority for video game ‘garden’ at Union Terrace by Graeme McCormick.

This is great news. Aberdeen should have a vibrant public realm given it’s massive economic advantage. Instead it is a provincial backwater with little modern architectural merit.

The key to the longterm success of this new square is how well it is maintained once it’s completed.

We have a poor record of maintaining our public works in Scotland. Let’s hope Aberdeen builds in a proper maintenance plan in the project

Recent comments by Graeme McCormick

  • McGrigor’s cross party debate on Argyll’s depopulation crisis

    Tourism is all very well but there are a host of employment opportunities which could provide good jobs and not be a blot on the landscape. When I was looking to relocate my business of around 20 folk in 2007 I approached two councils including A & B and the National Park to see if they could help identify premises and how the planning regime might impact on my proposals. I wasn’t looking for any grant aid. I was keen on a building in Luss which the Park owned but they said NO even although it would bring 20 folk to use the local shop and families to live in or near the area. They didn’t want to know because it wasn’t tourist orientated. I relocated within Glasgow instead as my local authorities were not motivated to help.
    That’s 20 families (80 people) which were lost to the area.

    Having heard some of the potential candidates for the forthcoming election I have to agree that they are almost all underwhelming in their ability even to understand the problem and think about how it can be solved. Most of the bumff I’ve seen is claptrap. We need someone to take the matter by the scruff of the neck and show initiative and leadership. I sent the three SNP nominees a list of questions included amongst which were some asking their specific ideas for eceonomic development and repopulation in each part of the constituency. Only one had a good stab at it.

  • New Scottish Welfare Fund statistics show level of applications from Argyll
    I agree that urgent action is required not just be the Scottish government but by the UK government, communities and businesses too. Just as an example: If the MOD gave every service person stationed at Faslane a relocation package to buy a home in Helensburgh of say £5000 for everyone taking up the offer it would generate a minimum of £25000 and potentially two or three times that amount each year to our local economy plus increasing our local population with young vibrant folk. If the UK government won’t help, I’ll be calling on the SNP candidate for the forthcoming election to ask the Scottish government to provide the package.
  • University of West of Scotland considering most serious academic devaluation possible
    As Disraeli said” Keep your eye on Paisley”. I haven’t seen the details but there are a lot of bright people at UWS but it remains to be seen if they are like a lighthouse in the dessert or a beacon of progressive and radical education.

    May be they’ll have a more sophisticated admission system to redcue the dropout rate.

  • New Scottish Welfare Fund statistics show level of applications from Argyll
    From a cursory glance I can’t see any statistics showing how many of the applications came from folk in employment and if they are paid below the Living Wage.

    Care, retail and tourism sectors which make up a big part of the A & B economy are assumed to struggle to pay the Living Wage. However there are employers in these sectors who are accredited Living Wage employers which suggests the business models of those who don’t are questionable.

    An initiative to increase Living Wage rates should be an integral part of any campaign to repopulate A & B.

  • Has Sturgeon ‘red line’ forced MoD evaluation of Pembrokeshire as Trident submarine base?
    Forget the Daily Mail nonsense the Labour Party policy forum in Milton Keynes before the Referendum parked the motion to scrap Trident by nearly 50 branches. That will come up again.

    More interesting is the MOD announcing the need to sell more property and assets. Public owned land on the Lower Clyde must be retained even if no longer used by the MOD as there is very little publicly owned land to develop a global port. Successful port expansions in Europe are in countries which have nationalised ports. These countries take a long term investment strategy than the quick buck mentality of private port owners. If the MOD do sell the Scottish Government must buy in the public interest.

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8 Responses to This is great news. Aberdeen should have …

  1. I think this is unfortunately evidence (again) that, in Aberdeen, money speaks louder than anything else. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
    It’s worth comparing this scheme, which completely overwhelms the gardens and utterly destroys their character, with the previous proposal by Brisac Gonzalez for the Peacock Visual Arts Centre, consisting of three levels of galleries and arts facilities inserted under the existing gardens terraces in much the same way that the National Gallery basement extension was inserted under the existing building on the Mound facing Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Diller Scofidio & Renfro are very good designers – who did a brilliant job in their High Line linear garden development of the old elevated freight railway bordering the Hudson in Manhattan – but they’ve been unable to work within, and respect, the character of Union Terrace Gardens.

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  2. Is Aberdeen in Argyll now?

    Let’s have more focus on what is happening – or not happening – on the Oban development front.

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  3. I have to agree with Webcraft here. It would appear that the citizens of Aberdeen, after a full consultation process, have been given the opportunity to express an opinion about the Gardens project.
    Contrast that with the “airy fairy” details available for the spending of a considerable sum of borrowewd money under the CHORD project in Oban on a scheme where information about what is proposed, costings, business plan (?) is not only denied to the general public but, it would appear, is only available in severely redacted format to those councillors who are not in the charmed Inner Circle. Yet again, what price democratic process in Argyll & Bute?

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  4. For Webcraft and Ken MacColl: It’s not an either or situation. We are of course looking into the situation with the Oban CHORD project and we are aware that access to the entire Interim Business Case has been denied.

    Anyone from outside the council has to accept that an Interin Business case actually exists and that it has been discussed. Not only is the public denied knowledge of the contents of this business case, it is not allowed to know what the conclusions of the discussion on it were.

    Moreover, the meeting was asked: ‘to recommend to the Programme Management Board that £1,840,000.00 be drawn down to allow the 1st phase of the project as detailed in the Interim Business case to be progressed, subject to the adjustments discussed for the traffic interchange proposals.

    This is a substantial sum of money to be drawn down with no public account of exactly what it is for – and to be drawn down on the basis of an ‘interim’ and not a final business case.

    The Oban CHORD project is a labyrinthine morass of indefensible practice and as such, working to undersitand it is a slow process akin to dissecting a rat.

    The Aberdeen division on the retention or radicalisation of Union Terrace Gardens raises issues of perspectives on planning for public spaces which are relevant anywhere.

    Helensburgh faces the vandalism of the classical lines of Colquhoun Square and for no good reason.

    Anyone who looks at the design approved for Union Terrace Gardens will see nothing organic but simply an overscale version of the short term concrete wows that were enacted in urban gardens back when garden makeovers where all the rage.

    This is a question of design for public spaces – and we are all affected by such matters wherever we live.

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    • Totally agree ‘.newsroom’.
      The Argyll Square roundabout in the centre of Oban was a beautiful ‘alive’ spectacle at one time, only to be vandalised with concrete, and token garden. Old pictures of the square are beautiful and vibrant, and any place considering ‘improvements’ should understand, when its gone its gone!
      The daft roundabout at Alexandria is another ugly waste of money surely.
      Whether its Aberdeen, Helensburgh or wherever a cool considered overview is a must and any local consultion must be given due prominence.

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  5. This is great news. Aberdeen should have a vibrant public realm given it’s massive economic advantage. Instead it is a provincial backwater with little modern architectural merit.

    The key to the longterm success of this new square is how well it is maintained once it’s completed.

    We have a poor record of maintaining our public works in Scotland. Let’s hope Aberdeen builds in a proper maintenance plan in the project

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Graeme – have a good look at what’s proposed – the open space, ‘the square’, disappears to be replaced by a series of carved up spaces separated by very substantial bits of building – a very expensive monument to Sir Ian Wood, undoubtedly – but really destructive of the character of this garden in the city.

      Aberdeen is not a ‘provincial backwater with little architectural merit’ – the city centre has suffered from bad planning that’s allowed traffic to dominate and has led to the main thoroughfare, Union Street, becoming very down at heel, and driven out much of the retail life. Jazzing up what could still be a haven from the rush and noise of the streets isn’t going to cure Aberdeen’s problems. In Manhattan Diller Scofidio & Renfro succeeded in part because they had to respect the strong form of the old railway viaduct, and designed the garden within it – whereas in Aberdeen they’ve been presented with an existing garden, but have completely destroyed its form in seeking to create something novel and revolutionary. The previous approved design created very substantial new space to bring more life and activity into the gardens, but without destroying their form. I just wonder if this was seen as a missed opportunity to create a massive impact on the city centre to the greater glory of Sir Ian Wood and the ‘city fathers’.

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  6. The current gardens are ugly and plagued with drug addicts. It is such a total waste of space and has no character whatsoever. The new scheme is modern and will have space for outdoor events, something else which Aberdeen is lacking. After the gardens, attention needs to be paid to Union Street. I think part of it should be pedestrianised like in other cities, this will also encourage tourism and draw people to spend more time on Union Street.

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