Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Diller Scofidio & Renfro win Aberdeen gardens comp

January 16 2012

Diller Scofidio & Renfro win Aberdeen gardens comp
American practice Diller Scofidio & Renfro, in collaboration with Keppie Design and Olin Studio, have seen off Foster and Partners to win a commission to radically overhaul Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens.

The project, if built, will provide the city with an additional 70,000sq/f of green space across eight distinct garden areas, including an arts and culture centre and café.

Explaining their selection jury chairman Sir Duncan Rice said judges had been “overwhelmed” by the “thrilling concept”.

Fellow jury member Charles Landry added: “"This is a design that can act as the catalyst to regenerate the whole of Aberdeen's city centre with significant economic impacts for the entire city. Truly inspiring, it can put Aberdeen onto the global radar screen - very, very few designs can do this. In time it will be surely loved by locals and visitors alike. Without this type of transformational change, Aberdeen will struggle to meet the challenges it will inevitably face in the future."

Charles Renfro, partner at Diller Scofidio & Renfro, said: “"The steep competition drove us that much harder to do more research, to understand the site more thoroughly, to dig deeper into our creative reserve and our technical expertise to find a daring, thoughtful and beautiful solution.

"While the City Garden is at the heart of Aberdeen, that current heart has little pulse. We feel that we can make it throb and bring life and energy into the centre of town.  By making the park greener, more accommodating to passive and active uses, more engaged at its edges, the gardens can become a magnet for this otherwise youthful and energetic city. The project reflects an integration of landscape design, museum design and design for the performing arts, the primary focuses of our practice."

The decision over whether to proceed with a full planning application will now be the subject  of a local referendum.
The layered plan has been likened to a spiders web
The layered plan has been likened to a spiders web


crispy dave
#1 Posted by crispy dave on 16 Jan 2012 at 15:00 PM
Diamond Don
#2 Posted by Diamond Don on 16 Jan 2012 at 16:35 PM
I'm gutted. The winter garden was by far the better scheme.
Down with the skateboarders paradise!
I'm changing my mind and voting NO in the referendum there.
#3 Posted by Zippy on 16 Jan 2012 at 16:38 PM
But Aberdeen already has a winter gardens in Duthie Park?

And the project team specifically said they didn't want another one?

Maybe Norman misssed that detail. WOOOPS.
#4 Posted by Al on 16 Jan 2012 at 17:28 PM
The Foster scheme had most chance of winning a yes vote. They're going to struggle with the Keppie scheme.
Stuart MacDonald
#5 Posted by Stuart MacDonald on 16 Jan 2012 at 19:24 PM
With apologies to Jonathan Glancey - Aberdeen is an architectural riddle wrapped in a cultural mystery inside a financial enigma; and now tangled in a granite web.
Andrew Brown
#6 Posted by Andrew Brown on 16 Jan 2012 at 20:24 PM
Now living and working in Aberdeen City / Shire, this is not what we want. The second shortlisted design would have got the support of Aberdeen residents. No all the way.
Lord Tully
#7 Posted by Lord Tully on 16 Jan 2012 at 23:54 PM
#6, Since when was this about what WE want?
Big Janet fae the estate
#8 Posted by Big Janet fae the estate on 17 Jan 2012 at 07:37 AM
They should have covered the road up since it's an eyesore, built the winter pavilion which allows for year-round activity and tidied up the existing gardens. The general overhaul in conjunction with a new appreciation for Union gardens would have been the best option.

The current design does not create a superior park experience -- the space is compromised and not conducive to playing football etc as the renders are trying to imply. It will become a concrete jungle.

#9 Posted by sg on 17 Jan 2012 at 09:00 AM
with all the negativity i would like to make a positive comment. this scheme addresses a couple of current problems very well.

1. the web creates a series of shortcuts between union street and HMT through the park, which means people will go through it. create a shorter route and it will be used.

2. the space to the rear of revolution (a bar, which rear outdoor space is packed in summer) has a connection to the park meaning this could potentiallty be a brilliant space in the summer months.

there are others but i have to do some work...
Jane Franchi
#10 Posted by Jane Franchi on 17 Jan 2012 at 09:31 AM
The Foster scheme was a neat design and in some respects it went a long way to combating the big problem - climate. It also retained a lof of the existing gardens which struck a chord with the groups who don't want change. What let it down was that it was a copy and paste, in that it could have beeb plonked down in any green space in any city in the world. It didn't respond to its context in terms of knitting the city centre together - it was cosmetic surgery when what Aberdeen needs is a heart replacement. Fosters didn't put much effort in their scheme, infact I don't think Norman even knew it was going on in his office.

Big Janet - Granite Web does cover the road and railway - entirely. Football is played at the riverside, seaton park - and Pittodrie. It is an urban park, not a football pitch?

Aberdeen is very fortunate in the current climate to have several big projects on the horizon : Aberdeen City Garden, a new world class Golf Course, a new football stadium and training facilities for the community, as well as the bypass and new communities that will sprout up on the back of it.

Sometimes folk need to take a step back and be thankful, instead of complaining.
#11 Posted by Stuart on 17 Jan 2012 at 09:32 AM
Indeed, during those long, hot and dry summer months in Aberdeen. It will be wonderful.
 Big Janet fae the estate
#12 Posted by Big Janet fae the estate on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:35 AM
@Jane Franchi

Please read my points in full before you wrongly misrepresent my views.

Hun, I never said the 'granite web' design DIDN'T cover the road.You invented that sweetie. I KNOW it does. What I said, in a list format if you actually read, was a series of things I would like to see done. That is, cover the road (which the 'granite web' does), but apart from that I preferred the elegance of Foster's design and the winter pavillion idea.

As for your snide football remarks -- how many 8 yr old boys say "Oh, I'm just popping down to Pittoddrie to play football with my mates on the big stadium pitch?".None. And my football comment was in reference to the architect's render which shows football going on but is completely disingenuous -- the space is absolutely sh*t for doing such things.

I think this design will age terribly -- wait until it rains and all the stone is drab and dreary.And all those nice underpasses for the local neds = heaven for junkies.
Nae fae Aberdeen
#13 Posted by Nae fae Aberdeen on 17 Jan 2012 at 13:04 PM
hang on a wee I detect a wave of negativity emmitting from the Aberdonian collective? What a surprise! They're usually such an optimistic bunch.
#14 Posted by Al on 17 Jan 2012 at 17:50 PM
The design on show at the exhibition covered part of the road. There would still be big chunks left uncovered.
#15 Posted by Rab on 18 Jan 2012 at 11:27 AM
Deary me Al get with the program

Those drawings are from the initial submission, which was then updated when it was whittled down to the last 2........they road it entirely covered.
#16 Posted by Al on 18 Jan 2012 at 17:24 PM
Are you sure Rab? That big bit of empty space beside the proposed Stewarty Milne offices isn't a big void down to the road then?
#17 Posted by Rab on 20 Jan 2012 at 13:34 PM
No Al, in the latest images (as can be seen in the news) thoese big voids over the road and rail are covered up......

Glad you mentioned the Stewarty Milne offices - that development has almost been buried because of the brew haha over the gardens - Milne and his architect, presumebly HFM are responsible for a pretty awful design there-!

And if the gardens were to happen it would be given even more prominence, truly horiffic thought.

Post your comments


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


Back to January 2012

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