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George Square design competition launched

September 13 2012

George Square design competition launched
A £15m design competition to revamp George Square has been launched - a project which could see all of monuments, bar the cenotaph, dug up and transferred for an indeterminate period, according to Glasgow City Council.

This would see all 13 statues and memorials removed; together with all existing lighting, seating, planting and the infamous red tarmac.

Councillors believe such a radical step is necessary in order to allow designers a ‘blank canvas’ to implement radical new plans. It will also allow Historic Scotland to implement a conservation plan.

But some have voiced fears that the heart of Glasgow could be left as a building site for far too long.

If approved a shortlist of submissions will be drawn up on 12 October with the teams work placed on public display through November and December.

Work could then start as early as April 2013 with the first phase of works likely to be completed a year later – just in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Urban Realm editor John Glenday said: “George Square has been described as Glasgow’s living room and you tamper with that at your peril, particularly within such a tight timeframe.

“We only need to look north to Aberdeen to see the sort of shambles which such large scale square design competitions can descend into. Indeed even closer to home Glasgow City Council have a poor track record from Glasgow Bridge to Café in the Square - both of which were prematurely aborted.

“Nevertheless this is an opportunity for Glasgow to give itself a heart once more and I look forward to seeing what the cream of the world’s design community can come up with.”

Anyone interested in tendering is invited to do so online.


Big Chantelle
#1 Posted by Big Chantelle on 13 Sep 2012 at 20:16 PM
My hopes fur Gorge Sqware would be 2 c the red tarmak removed & replaced wae some nice colored tiles 2 make the place mare cheery. Also, I'd like 2 c mare food outlets like Costa coffy their so we can have a cafy culture. And also a new fowntin wae some fish woold b nice.
Partick Bateman
#2 Posted by Partick Bateman on 14 Sep 2012 at 09:05 AM
I can't believe it - you mean Glasgow City Council are actually doing a project which isnt next to Celtic Park? Are you sure this is correct?
Auld Cynic
#3 Posted by Auld Cynic on 14 Sep 2012 at 10:23 AM
And all for a total budget of £15m, including surrounding infrastructure and traffic management works…

Made a successful PQQ submission? Great, now battle it out with a minimum of five others to then secure a £1.25m total fee to resource your consultant team: Architect, Landscape Architect, Quantity surveyor, Civil, Structural and Services engineers, and Lighting Designer for A to K, 18 months minimum contract?

Better to do nothing, than try and do something for nothing?
Jo Jo
#4 Posted by Jo Jo on 14 Sep 2012 at 10:46 AM
Good points AC all of them. Add to that the stong community and conservation resistance to doing anything with the square. It will be a slog but you'll find a high number of teams lining up to do it. Why? because there is nothing else around.
#5 Posted by Neil on 14 Sep 2012 at 10:50 AM
£10m PI Insurance also required, for a £15m project. Bizarre!
Partick Bateman
#6 Posted by Partick Bateman on 14 Sep 2012 at 11:54 AM
This is a public realm project - why is an architect even needed?
La Hora de la Verdad
#7 Posted by La Hora de la Verdad on 14 Sep 2012 at 12:40 PM
I urge GCC to look at any successful European square - no cafes or information centres, which tend to be on the ground floors of the buildings that form the square, thereby attracting citizens and visitors to the square. Thus a place for the casual meeting and the unexpected evolving of the city's history is formed. To paraphrase Andrew Tuck, 'cities are our history in bricks and mortar. And you can't redraw them....the best cities offer us places not just to work, play and sleep but also for our lives to unfold in unexpected and colourful ways'
#8 Posted by PM on 14 Sep 2012 at 12:41 PM
Who is needed Patrick?
#9 Posted by PM on 14 Sep 2012 at 12:42 PM
Also - What is it you think architects do?
Frank Lloyd Wrong
#10 Posted by Frank Lloyd Wrong on 14 Sep 2012 at 13:26 PM
Paddy - Good Bate-Man, as usual - good to have your positivity & support on this one too.
Can anyone think of any successful public realm project which did not involve an architect?
Paddy, your back yard doesn't count.
#11 Posted by Ross on 14 Sep 2012 at 13:37 PM
As usual not an open ideas design competition. The likely winners can already be identified. What a wasted opportunity. Establishment at work as usual.
Partick Bateman
#12 Posted by Partick Bateman on 14 Sep 2012 at 13:45 PM
This is a project that a landscape architect should be leading. It needs to be sensitive, well detailed and designed with people in mind - something which ive yet to see from any architects design for the public realm.
Rem Koolbag
#13 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 14 Sep 2012 at 14:18 PM
So Patrick, something more like the work done by landscape architects on the pedestrianisation of Sauchiehall Street?

Some poorly done layouts in stone slabs, poor quality street furniture that was never replaced, trees that were cut down or snapped in half and never replaced (never the capability to be replaced either), bizarre stone blocks along the shops (with nice extra bizarre bits stuck on top recently, most of which have fallen off), and lets not forget the addition of some frankly stupid sets of steps to the centre of it all, meaning in total that there is pretty much no part of the street section that pedestrian can freely walk down.

Bet it was a lovely plan drawing though with all the shapes.
Auld Cynic
#14 Posted by Auld Cynic on 14 Sep 2012 at 14:49 PM
It matters less who does it, rather what they do with it?

Given the restrictive budget it will require a calm, methodical and analytical approach to establish both the problem(s) and then the solution(s) worthy of implementation in this expansive and historically emotive space?

Contemporary architectural interventions in cities such as Barcelona seem in retrospect less than successful, without enduring quality? Whilst the the almost imperceptible and highly considered changes to Trafalgar Square in London have successfully reinvented the space for generations to come? Yet it still provides a dignified setting for national monuments, tourists, demonstrations, concerts, celebrations and…riots.

In George Square, what really needs changed and why?
#15 Posted by Wunderkind on 14 Sep 2012 at 14:51 PM
For me it is important that an architect is involved.

The project isn’t going to be turning the square over to nature (turf throughout) and it’s too big to be just an open hard landscaped square – otherwise we’ll see a repeat of ‘Festival’ square in Edinburgh – windswept and barren. Our weather is such that, if people really are going to use it for those ‘accidental meetings’ then it needs some provision for the prevailing weather over here. That means more than just slight changes in surfaces and textures – i.e. proper architecture. Architecture doesn’t stop at the outside wall of a building, and so while there should be landscape architect involved it is important that there is a bit more to it than that.
Partick Bateman
#16 Posted by Partick Bateman on 14 Sep 2012 at 15:44 PM
Rem Koolbag
Perhaps more like the work done by landscape architects on Buchanan Street, or around GOMA, or in the Merchant City. All of which have massively improved the public realm in Glasgow. The pedestrianisation of Sauchiehall Street is not great, but much of what you mention is down to poor maintenance by the council.

I'd be interested to see a public realm project in Glasgow designed and implemented by an architect... are there any?
Art Vandelay
#17 Posted by Art Vandelay on 14 Sep 2012 at 15:45 PM
I would have thought there will be some not-so-subtle revisiting of a number of the Cafe in the Square proposals from a few years ago. A few of them had a lot of merit - Studio KAP and Nord spring to mind.

The square definitely needs more than just a tidying up, but this really needs to be done in conjunction with a much wider review of Glasgow's 'key' spaces - I'm thinking of this, and the Sauchiehall/Buchanan St/Argyle St axis in particular. Ultimately, it's all well and good doing something with George Square, but if everything around it is still below par then it's hardly going to make much difference.

Without wanting to resurrect the previous thread, without partial pedestrianisation of the surrounding streets (in particular the area outside the station, in conjunction with the redevelopment work there), it's going to be difficult to transform it into anything other than a newer version of what's there at the moment.
Rem Koolbag
#18 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 14 Sep 2012 at 17:32 PM
Why is one of the Banana Splits on the telly talking about this?
Bushus spikimus
#19 Posted by Bushus spikimus on 14 Sep 2012 at 19:24 PM
As an architect I think we definately need landscape architect involvement. Who else knows the latin for big spikey bushes?
walter "where's wally" scott
#20 Posted by walter "where's wally" scott on 15 Sep 2012 at 02:41 AM
I am SO totally completely utterly fed up standing on top of this column in the middle of the (rectangular) square, by the way.

Time for Mr "I'm so round and smiley and yellow and better than the man who invented the novel" Happy to take his turn.

Or maybe that big Biking Hoy that everyone's been talking about...

See how he likes it.

effin pigeons...
walter scot
#21 Posted by walter scot on 15 Sep 2012 at 03:09 AM
It is Not a SQUARE.


I mean, it's basic geometry people. Read Camillo Sitte if you don't believe me.

And if anyone asks "where's wally" one more time...
#22 Posted by Bill on 15 Sep 2012 at 10:09 AM
The public realm down at the broomielaw at the squiggley bridge is a fine example good public space that was not Architect led
#23 Posted by brian on 17 Sep 2012 at 20:20 PM
I wrote to council many yrs ago to put the doulton fountain in the square.the reply was it just wouldnt bblend into the square.then few year later they put red tarmac down.Awful mess.

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