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Graeme – have a good look at what’s …

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

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’.

Robert Wakeham also commented

  • 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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