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Lochgilphead Front Green

Lochgilphead Front Green

Lochgilphead Front Green The Front Green is Lochgilphead’s core public space, a key part of the original composition of the eighteenth-century planned settlement, forming a green waterfront edge at the head of Loch Gilp. Argyll Street, the main spine of the planned settlement, offers a framed view south down Loch Gilp across the Front Green, with the war memorial as a visual focus. Historically the Front Green was the hub of community activity, hosting markets and civic events. However, with rising sea levels, it was subject to regular coastal flooding, and had become increasingly boggy and unusable.

Consequently, over time activity was displaced to more peripheral locations around the town. Erz were appointed by Argyll and Bute Council in late 2018 to lead the project to regenerate the Front Green. A carefully structured process of community engagement took place through 2019 to inform the detailed brief and design of the space. This was focused around a series of well attended consultation events on the Front Green. Alongside dialogue with the community, the technical design response to coastal flooding was explored. The level of the Front Green has been raised, informed by projections for changes to sea level and with consideration to wider flooding and drainage impacts. The raised and redesigned Front Green basically sits above a large storage tank to hold water in storm and flood events, which is released back to Loch Gilp when sea levels drop.

The project experienced an extended programme through tender and construction stages, as a result of the pandemic, with completion in summer 2022. The regenerated Front Green incorporates a new play area, a large flexible open grass space, a new active travel route and re-establishes the avenue of trees along the A83 / Poltalloch Street edge. Large landmark signage announces Lochgilphead along the A83 to encourage visitors to stop, thereby increasing footfall and supporting local business. One of the major design moves has been the creation of a new public square on the axis of Argyll Street, that responds to the 18 th Century urban design. The public square creates a new setting for the war memorial and a unique civic space with a remarkable view down Loch Gilp.

The square is intended to re-establish the Front Green as the focus of civic life and incorporates infrastructure to facilitate markets and events. The square is defined to one edge by a linear steel and timber screen structure, that helps to generate human scale, provides local wind shelter and also helps embed the existing toilet block. The square is surfaced with locally quarried ‘Greenstone’, which is unique to the area and evident in historic landmark buildings in Lochgilphead and Inverary. This material combined with whin stone is used in various formats to introduce subtle variation in the ground plane, responding to offset relationships in the broad Argyll Street axis.

The colour of the Greenstone square has a delightful complementary relationship to the changing colours of the water and sky of Loch Gilp. The area around the war memorial had become a focus for a range of historic and cultural markers including: an historic stone fountain, memorial benches, information panels, the flagpole and the town’s Christmas tree. This cluttered arrangement has been addressed through the design, giving each of these valued items its own space and new setting. The flagpole defines a corner of the square, the Christmas tree will sit within the square, the fountain has been set within a grid of trees and a new bespoke map board and community information panel are incorporated into the linear screen. The detailed design of the Front Green is focused on simple, clean lines and edges.

The raised level to reduce flood risk to the Front Green generates a new constructed edge to the waterfront. Levels have been carefully considered, to make the edge comfortably sittable and to avoid any physical barrier, creating a simple foreground and ‘infinity’ edge to views down Loch Gilp. Since the opening of the Front Green it has been heavily used and early signs are that the project will succeed in returning the space to its role as the hub of public life in Lochgilphead.

PROJECT: Lochgilphead Front Green
LOCATION: Lochgilphead
CLIENT: Argyll and Bute Council
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: David Narro Associates
SERVICES ENGINEER: Henderson Warnock
Lochgilphead Front Green
Lochgilphead Front Green
Lochgilphead Front Green

Lochgilphead Front Green
Main Contractor:  Hawthorn Heights
Construction Manager:  Armour Construction Consultants

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