Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Union Terrace Gardens - my analysis of the new plan

The new plans for Union Terrace Gardens prepared by John Halliday
The genius of John Halliday
You know, I've been thinking long and hard about Sir John Halliday's plans for Union Terrace Gardens and his spectacular appearance on STV News in which he explained the design of the project. I imagine the plans were prepared under the watchful eye of the imperious Sir Ian Wood who guided Halliday's pencil all the way.

To me, Union Terrace Gardens have always been a ladder in the tights of the Granite City. The hard unyielding urbanity of Scotland's greatest city with a soft hairy valley of sordidness that shouldn't be there. When Sir John penetrated it with his long thin pencil the outcome was certain to be positive - and exciting! I've watched his video many times now and here is my expert planner's view of what he said.

John Halliday has come up with a design which would see the gardens partly raised but remain sunken. Clever! Neither one thing nor the other so those opposed to the plans are immediately confused by this brilliant masterstroke. The plans feature an arts centre, civic square and the rail line and Denburn dual carriageway covered over to link to Belmont Street. So if you are a motorist you will have to switch your headlights on as you drive through the new gardens.
Somewhere on Union Street
Beautiful women strut about Aberdeen

Now here is the killer punch. The plans will feature a new entrance from the station - truly there is no end to this great architect's imagination. Every garden needs an entrance doesn't it? I listened entranced as Sir John explained his proposals in his soft Doric dialect - it was as if a beautiful woman was pouring warm milk in my ears. He said, "...then of course you need a roof over what's below and the roof becomes a city square. Then you have a city square where you can have markets, you can have gigs, you can have demonstrations if you wish, you can meet people there. Uniting the city rather than dividing it." I was in ecstasy - so anything below needs a roof and the roof becomes the city square. It's a conundrum cleverly placed to deceive the doubters - but I hope it isn't a pitched roof! Many planners would insist on that - as an expert planner I know about these requirements. Certainly 45 degrees would be too steep for a city square especially if Marley Modern tiles are used.

I hope you find this analysis helpful. I knew that when Sir John brought out his big pencil and guided it down the garden path the whole world would be in awe. I know I am!

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