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

  • Russell’s remaining questions on Castle Toward
    While Michael Russell’s questions are perfectly reasonable one must ask if they are made by him accepting that the Community bid is dead or not. Even the most resolute of developers will tire of being political pawns after a while so I would caution making much of the whys and wherefores at this time and let’s have some encouragement for what on paper could be a major boost to Cowals economy.

    I’d give the proposer five months to produce the financial package after which incisive questioning of the council role would be appropriate.

  • End of Castle Toward soap opera may be sale to soap tycoon
    Having tried to suggest a practical way to bridge the divide between the council and the proponents of the Community buyout I must say that this sounds a better deal for the council and the local communityif the funds stack up.

    Scotland is littered with large Victorian piles which end up in public or community ownership. they cost a fortune to maintain . I live in a house built in 1865 and my wife pays for its repair. That is our choice as private individuals.

    However it is invariably the case that Victorian piles for community use are a waste of public funds. Much better to build something built for purpose. It costs less to build and maintain and offer our excellent young architects opportunity.

    Introduce a Land Valuation Rental system and the land will become available. Then the community will build its facilities that are fit for purpose. Let’s move on.

  • Argyll Bute Council, challenge, complaint, codes of conduct and the scheme of things
    Instead of the past political shenanigans one would hope that the SNP council candidates will sign up to an agreed programme to serve all of A & B .

    The programme must include a division of the political leadership and the paid officials through the creation of a public service bureau .

    Devolution to local areas of all services and a repopulation strategy are essential elements.

  • Signpost to a one-party state: First Minister aims for record turnout at 2016 Scottish election
    Rather than bleat about a one party state perhaps Newsie could advise what the SNP should do to reduce its appeal to the electorate all in the interests of democracy.

    I don’t recall Newsie complaining about a one party state over the 50 years when Labour always won despite never securing 50% of the popular vote.

  • Davidon chases clarity from Labour on charitable status of independent schools
    I haven’t come across any parents who think their children’s education is dire.

    The purpose of education is to inspire everyone to develop his or her talents to flourish. To flourish one needs to understand rather than simply have an ability to exam pass. Curriculum for excellence is designed to promote understanding .

    If private education was to end the state would have to provide school places for these children about 30000. To fund that tax would need to be increased and that would be taxes on all taxpayers not just those who would otherwise choose private education. From a practical point of view who is prepared to pay more tax to abolish private education?

    I think I’m right in thinking that there are senior politicians in all the major parties who privately educate their children.

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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.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  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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