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Organisers celebrate ‘exceptional’ interest in Union Terrace Gardens competition

The controversial competition to revamp Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has received 55 entries from architects including one Pritkzer Laureate and several Stirling award winners – claim organisers

Despite strong opposition from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and Labour politicians in Aberdeen, organizers claim the contest has attracted ‘some of the leading lights of the architectural world’.

Run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, the competition is part of £140 million plans to redevelop the city centre gardens which could include raising the level of the Victorian square (1879).

London-practice Brisac Gonzalez had previously won consent for a scheme to build the Peacock Visual Arts centre on the site, however in May last year those proposals were cast aside in favour of a larger overhaul of the site backed by local business tycoon Ian Woods.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading said: ‘The submissions are of exceptional quality. The level of collaboration is the highest we have ever seen and reveals that many competitors appreciate that this project demands a comprehensive range of skill and expertise.

‘Many of the teams are led by highly successful design practices, including a number of Stirling award winners and a Pritkzer Laureate. There is a particularly high involvement of Scottish firms in the teams and strong representation from the US and continental Europe.

‘These are some of the most accomplished names in the architectural firmament.’

As many as 70 per cent of the 55 entries were collaborative it is claimed.

Following a selection of the short list later this month, the successful design teams will be issued with a design brief.

Reading added: ‘The design brief will underline that the site must be primarily a garden, a public space for Aberdeen.

‘The current gardens are under-performing as a public space. They are under-used and the changes in levels across the site are barriers to its use as a thoroughfare. The City Garden Project aims to make the site a vital place in the city.’

Last month Labour politicians in Aberdeen hit out at the competition, saying they would support a boycott by architects.

The RIAS described the decision to launch a design contest for the site as ‘inappropriate in the extreme.’


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