Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy
 

Carbuncles 2010 judging kicks off with East Kilbride visit

Bookmark and Share | Send to friend

July 12 2010

Carbuncles 2010 judging kicks off with East Kilbride visit
Urban Realm has been on a birlie round the whirlies of East Kilbride as the Carbuncles road show 2010 kicked off with a tour of Scotland’s first, and arguably most successful, New Town.

Host to a wealthy and growing population the demographics of this suburban mecca contrast with the usual tales of urban blight the Carbuncles crew have grown accustomed to. But money of itself does not necessarily equate to interesting architecture as was soon discovered.

With Scotland’s largest undercover mall at its heart East Kilbride is something of a bellwether for the troubled retail sector, a fact borne out by one local architects guess that up to 10% of the current floorspace is lying vacant.

It is not a situation likely to improve with numerous supermarkets vying to boost their presence in the town, but as architect Neil de Prez of 3DReid asked. Why can’t mall managers amalgamate empty units to provide the big box retailers with the floor space they desire?

Nevertheless thanks to a spread of amenities including three nightclubs, an ice rink and cinema the centre remains a hive of activity and significant sums have been expended on revamping the town’s bus station and public realm.

Pondering this newly minted landscape Mark Chalmers of Michael Gilmour Associates commented: “This is the kind of environment you’d get in Berlin, stainless steel street furniture and granite paving so they’re doing something right. It’s expensive stuff.”

However Neil de Prez, gazing at a surrounding sea of endless roundabouts and pedestrian underpasses, stated: “You feel you’re the underclass here, the car has priority, you’re subordinate.”

A sceptical Alistair Scott of Smith Scott Mullan added: “Public investment has gone in the wrong things and the private sector is not capitalising on this. It’s classic end of year expenditure.

“East Kilbride a great place to bring up the kids but how long can it be sustained? It worked well for its era but it’s not transforming as well as it should.”

This latter statement is borne out by a series of dismal (some unintentionally amusing) additions to the town, not least of which is the St James Retail centre, yet more out of town shopping in gaudy faux Spanish wrapping.

Ultimately perhaps East Kilbride’s greatest failing is a sense of soullessness epitomised by a giant (largely derelict) sports centre housing an “American Golf” store. It is a sad reflection of current planning priorities.

Mark Chalmers blog entry recounting the visit provides further observation and commentary.
The St James Retail Centre exemplifies EK's current policy of edge of town big box development, albeit somewhat idiosyncratic in this instance
The St James Retail Centre exemplifies EK's current policy of edge of town big box development, albeit somewhat idiosyncratic in this instance
The Stuart Hotels sole guests these days are a family of roosting pigeons. gm+ad have drawn up plans for owners the G1 group to redevelop the site
The Stuart Hotels sole guests these days are a family of roosting pigeons. gm+ad have drawn up plans for owners the G1 group to redevelop the site

2 Comments

Sandra
#1 Posted by Sandra on 12 Jul 2010 at 21:07 PM
St james is perhaps out of character having some styling issues and yes the colours are bold however it brings a welcome facility to the area. Symtematic of the growth of new towns and not only E/K the car is unfortunatley driving too much of the layout of these new shopping precincts however this Centre is far better to look at than some of the very dull area of e/k and beyond.
Brian William McCabe
#2 Posted by Brian William McCabe on 13 Jul 2010 at 10:58 AM
Why St James look positively uplifting!
Bear in mind I am talking in the context of the architectural diamonds which are Church Walk & Vale View in Denny town centre, another 'Plook on a Plinth' contender.
I'd be delighted to meet with the Carbuncle's judges on their Grand Tour of Denny and highlight some of the inherent problems with the town's locality and function, and also explain the tragic futility of dealing with a local council of myopic vision as far as My Town's future is concerned.

Post your comments

 

All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.

 

Back to July 2010

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.