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Mike Galloway defends urban design approach taken at Dundee Waterfont

March 20 2017

Mike Galloway defends urban design approach taken at Dundee Waterfont
Mike Galloway, director for city development at Dundee City Council, has stepped in following a poor critical reception to the latest elements of the city’s waterfront masterplan by defending the urban design approach taken.

Stressing that not every element of the plan can be of the standard of the V&A or railway station, Galloway instead stresses the importance of ‘building widths, heights and proportions, the ratios between windows and walls on their main elevations and the use of materials and the creative use of colour’ to foster a sense of place, particularly in the use of active ground floors and pedestrian permeability.

Writing for The Courier Galloway wrote: “Not every building in a successful place can try to grab the maximum attention; otherwise the area will become a cacophony of ‘show off’ architecture that will come across as jarring and confusing.

“The key to creating well-mannered background buildings in the waterfront is to shun any temptation to focus on issues of architectural style and instead look to the underlying design qualities of the surrounding historic environment. However, we should avoid attempting any historical pastiche as we will only end up with a false and shallow ‘disneyfied’ theme park; instead we need to distil and reinterpret the enduring qualities that make Dundee the place it is.

“Even if we achieve all of these qualities as we develop the waterfront sites, I am not naïve enough to think we will manage to please everyone. Design appreciation is still a very individual matter and depends greatly on personal taste and preference.”

Plans brought forward by Cooper Cromar for a mixed-use development on the key plot were previously described as ‘disappointing’ in the context of recent efforts made by the city to bolster its design and creativity credentials.


#1 Posted by Wullie on 20 Mar 2017 at 13:28 PM

Someone swallowed a dictionary, eh Mike.

Paul Sweeney
#2 Posted by Paul Sweeney on 20 Mar 2017 at 14:04 PM
Is the reconstruction of Warsaw or Munich city centres 'historical pastiche' that has resulted in a false and shallow 'disneyfied' theme park or are they actually some of the finest examples for urban city centre environments in the world? There seems to be a cultural cringe about 'pastiche' when in actual fact it isn't, it is building in a particular style that is of a high aesthetic and structural quality which tends to delight and create more memorable and thriving urban environments.

The faithful reinstatement of the Victoria Arch would be a powerful expression of this.
Graeme McCormick
#3 Posted by Graeme McCormick on 20 Mar 2017 at 16:29 PM
What's wrong with the word "nice"? I don't think folk are looking for every building to be a statement piece but of good quality and lifts the spirit either in it's own right or part of a coherent plan. We might not have all the funds devoted to some of the new build on Oslo's waterfront but we should aim for something which doesn't recall recent past mediocrity.
Simon Williamson
#4 Posted by Simon Williamson on 22 Mar 2017 at 09:53 AM
The proposals look to me rather like the former dockyard offices in the Rosyth Naval Dockyard, now being knocked down. Surely there are architects out there who can come up with something more appealing that this drab effort.

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