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Young architects consider George Square’s future

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January 24 2013

Young architects consider George Square’s future
In the wake of the shambolic George Square design competition a group of young architects have gathered together in order to brainstorm a range of potential alternatives for the contentious squares future.

Hosted by paper+ architects, founded by Anna Gibb and Ross Anderson, the event seeks to invoke a positive and creative response to the depressing air of incompetence which presently pervades the air around City Chambers.

The day long ‘Paper Salon’ event saw a group of young architects take a wander round the current square before drafting their own solutions alongside an invited panel including Alan Dunlop and artist Patricia Cain.

This produced four diverse solutions unencumbered by Glasgow City Council’s brief or the competition process.
In a bold move option three called for the demolition of some or all buildings between the square and Buchanan Street to double the extent of the square at the expense of some of Glasgow’s finest buildings.
In a bold move option three called for the demolition of some or all buildings between the square and Buchanan Street to double the extent of the square at the expense of some of Glasgow’s finest buildings.
Proposal four sees all streets surrounding the square pedestrianised save for George Street with a new unifying paving material laid throughout. The square itself would be dug up to form a sunken amphitheatre which would be linked to the city chamber
Proposal four sees all streets surrounding the square pedestrianised save for George Street with a new unifying paving material laid throughout. The square itself would be dug up to form a sunken amphitheatre which would be linked to the city chamber

Proposal one introduces 20m high mirrored panels to reflect the drama of a square reduced in size to magnify the stature of surrounding buildings. In a play on the contentious plans to relocate a number of historic statues it is proposed that their p
Proposal one introduces 20m high mirrored panels to reflect the drama of a square reduced in size to magnify the stature of surrounding buildings. In a play on the contentious plans to relocate a number of historic statues it is proposed that their p
Scheme two sees traffic diverted to neighbouring streets and a pedestrian link established from Buchanan bus station via North Hanover Street. The plans entailed demolition of the Millenium hotel to create a grand entrance to Queen Street Station.
Scheme two sees traffic diverted to neighbouring streets and a pedestrian link established from Buchanan bus station via North Hanover Street. The plans entailed demolition of the Millenium hotel to create a grand entrance to Queen Street Station.

This Sean Gaul penned perspective illustrates the scale of a planned wall of mirrors
This Sean Gaul penned perspective illustrates the scale of a planned wall of mirrors

17 Comments

tcg
#1 Posted by tcg on 24 Jan 2013 at 11:47 AM
It is pretty clear from this that the very worst people to ask for designs for the spaces between buildings are architects. That is very sad. Our profession has become so obsessed with the built object that we simply fail to understand the nature of the stuff that ties all those buildings together. Provocative ideas are all very well but they do little more than further damage the credibility of the profession. How are the public meant to trust our opinions when some of our number propose the demolition of perfectly fine listed buildings on a whim? I think generally we have lost an understanding of civic space in this country.
Rem Koolbag
#2 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 24 Jan 2013 at 12:34 PM
Come on TCG - these proposals have been developed by a group of interested people totally off their own backs. They will certainly be getting no money from anyone for it and are using the opportunity and their own energies to open up the debate on architectural design and public space to a wider audience and maybe even perhaps raise the level of debate above simple cliche criticisms of water features in scotland and reintroduction of green spaces.

For Urban Realm - please bear in mind Architect is a protected title, and only those registered with ARB are entitled to be called such. At least one of the names mentioned in your article is not registered. I am mentioning this only in reference to the first comment here as it is part of a wider issue on the role of the architect and the public perception of that role in Scotland generally.

I would also object to the term 'young architect' being used in any way to describe Mr Dunlop....but that's another matter.
Rem Koolbag
#3 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 24 Jan 2013 at 12:40 PM
And I meant to add - good on paper+ and the rest for their enthusiasm and having the bottle to actually propose something.

Option 3's demolition of buildings to extend the square to Buchanan Street is stunning!
Rossco
#4 Posted by Rossco on 24 Jan 2013 at 12:47 PM
* tcg. I thought I was just being precious when looking over the mock proposals but I cannot disagree with your comments. There is always this focus on building out or somehow creating radical plans with public space when in reality the ones that work are the simplest designs. I am of the opinion that a landscape architect should be looking at this and that the so called architects mentioned in the article do a little night time reading. Starting with Jan Gehl and moving onto Kevin Lynch would certainly help.
Sean Gaule
#5 Posted by Sean Gaule on 24 Jan 2013 at 12:48 PM
In response to TCG, I think the short description of each drawing posted doesn't reflect the broader discussion which took place at the Paper Salon. I hope I'm not speaking out of turn here, but the group felt there was little energy or ambition evidenced in the competition entries and the brief the entrants were set. The proposals above raise some serious points but some may also be viewed as a more light hearted commentary on the current circumstances.

To say flatly "we have lost an understanding of civic space" is harsh and not entirely true. But there does need to be a broader discussion regarding the relevance of the word "civic" to current culture and society.
Partick Bateman
#6 Posted by Partick Bateman on 24 Jan 2013 at 13:00 PM
A laughable attempt. All of them are utterly ridiculous.

Seriously, architects - you cant design public space, you are too arrogant, too caught up in making big statements, or too concerned with what the plan looks like to actually consider how people USE public space.

Leave the design of public space to those who actually understand it. IE; Landscape Architects.
NIMBYism: Just Say No!
#7 Posted by NIMBYism: Just Say No! on 24 Jan 2013 at 14:13 PM
Too true tcg, instead I think the best person to ask about design and spaces between buildings is Mrs McArdle 53 Juniper Drive, Broughty Ferry.
A. Roggant
#8 Posted by A. Roggant on 24 Jan 2013 at 15:28 PM
Mr Bateman.

Can you confirm how George Square is used ? Is the regeneration of the square not initiated because at the moment it is not used to its full potential ?

Just a thought. I don't have that answer.

I think all the sketches included within the article are interesting in their own right and I believe it was Architects (and architectural asssistants) looking at a problem and offering a possible solution, how realistic and possible each option is dependant on your own views and imagination.
Young Architect
#9 Posted by Young Architect on 24 Jan 2013 at 17:13 PM
Jan Gehl, really. Heaven help us. Great day, I loved it and learned a lot.
Neil
#10 Posted by Neil on 24 Jan 2013 at 17:53 PM
Options 3 and 6 Combined would make a stunning proposition. The listed building you refer to are empty, last time I looked and rotting. Take the square through to Buchanan Street, open up the vista to the City Chambers, relocate the war memorial and reposition the statues , clear the clutter around Queen Street and narrow the square in places to protec the square form the traffic.

Brilliant, all in a day. Well done.
Art Vandelay
#11 Posted by Art Vandelay on 24 Jan 2013 at 22:48 PM
Fantastic stuff. Would love to see the mirror scheme built!

A lot more interesting than the official entries and each one raises some interesting questions about how precious we have to be with the buildings in the city centre.

(I'm just waiting for Kevin Toner to explode at reading this story)
NIMBYism: Just Say No!
#12 Posted by NIMBYism: Just Say No! on 25 Jan 2013 at 09:21 AM
#6 Absolutely, covering the square in the tartan travel rug and surrounding the statues with a glass ramp to nowhere was a brilliant proposal by landscape architects. Mere architects would never have come up with that one.
stuart gray
#13 Posted by stuart gray on 25 Jan 2013 at 11:26 AM
instead of demeaning comments #6 and #1. lets see you go out of your way, in your own time and add a scheme to the debate!!
kevin toner
#14 Posted by kevin toner on 25 Jan 2013 at 13:57 PM
Explosively entertaining and welcoming! The title should really however read "Baby architects..."

The publication "40 Architects under 40" is perhaps a reference with irony to the age of a young architect. Vice Versa there isn't the same inkling in the world regarding what the age of an old architect might be.

These infants’ presentations are veritable sand pits for play etc. The mental age of architects may never mature to adulthood in a lifetime, hence the blur in our general perception. 60 is IMHO a safer bet than 40 as most renowned architects probably mature after 60: a cue perhaps for the sequel “60 architects under 60”. I thought of this nearly 1.5 decades ago ca when that title was first issued I think.

There’s no real worry in keeping within the nursery stage. Architects have no real pressure upon them to mature beyond it. Play away!
Art Vandelay
#15 Posted by Art Vandelay on 26 Jan 2013 at 09:02 AM
Er...what?
Neil
#16 Posted by Neil on 26 Jan 2013 at 09:17 AM
Forgive me "Kevin Toner" but your statements always seem frankly so profoundly ignorant, long winded, obtuse and now rude I wonder if you have had any architectural and conservation training?
Nimbyism:Just say no!
#17 Posted by Nimbyism:Just say no! on 26 Jan 2013 at 10:13 AM
Excellent interview with Penny Lewis on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Saturday, regarding George Square, Commonwealth Games, the recent poor quality of public projects and philistinism. You should be able to get it on bbc scotland iplayer, last ten minutes.

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