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‘Truman Show’ fears over Duany’s village

Controversial American new urbanist Andres Duany has been appointed to masterplan a £1 billion ‘village’ in Aberdeenshire, just three months after provoking outrage from Scottish architects

In April, Duany sparked protests while carrying out a series of charrettes for the Scottish government after he alleged the country had not built any housing to be proud of since 1945 (AJ 08.04.10).

Now developer David Southesk has appointed Duany’s Miami-based firm Duany Plater-Zyberg (DPZ) to take on a massive 4,000-home project at the Elsick estate, near Newtonhill, Aberdeenshire. The project will include an academy, three primary schools and health and leisure facilities.

Alan Dunlop of Alan Dunlop Architects said he was impressed by Duany’s penetration into ‘Scottish political life and debate on urbanism… [particularly] as, judging from his most recent comments regarding green belt and housebuilding… he has little knowledge of architecture in Scotland and the planning process’.

Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: ‘The fear is it would look like Poundbury, it would look like the Seaside of The Truman Show’ (the 1998 film was shot in Seaside, a town in Florida designed by Duany).

Baxter added: ‘Let us hope they are imaginative and intelligent in their procurement of local talent.’

Southesk said: ‘We decided to appoint DPZ because of its experience of similar developments… I haven’t visited Poundbury yet, but have researched it and believe it is based on sound principles.’

At least four local architects will work on the project, which will go for planning in December.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has denied allegations that new urbanism fan Jim Mackinnon, chief planner at the Scottish executive, broke EU procurement rules by paying £200,000 for Duany to host the charrettes.

One source said: ‘There are so many people up in arms over the fact that Duany [has this job], but no one will speak out because Mackinnon is the head of architecture in Scotland and Duany is his pal.’

Andres Duany said: ‘I always look forward to working in a civilized country.’  

Readers' comments (6)

  • Bad, bad choice. Duany has indeed demonstrated, with his recent bizarre public statements about architecture and planning issues in Scotland, that he is the wrong man for the job. He commands little respect.

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  • Developers in Scotland are not stupid. Trump has taught them if you attach "world class" to the press release and create enough bluff and bluster you can impress any council and build as many houses as you like in the countryside

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  • david walters

    "The fear is it would . . .look like the seaside of The Truman Show’ (the 1998 film for which Duany designed the sets)." What a very odd way of describing Seaside, Florida, an actual urban place where the movie was shot. Seaside has a very successful real life with real people. Surely we know that...???

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  • mmm....real people, not really. A gated community isn't it, containing a selective cross section of mostly professional types in the Florida sunshine? That's why it was so perfect for Truman. Urban, not really either?

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  • david walters

    Clearly the readers haven't been there. No gates. Walk and drive around as you like. Yes. . . professional people . . . like us, you mean?

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  • I've been there, it is a good place to live. Nice colours, sunshine, good looking people, no riff raff

    It is not characteristic of the city though so I would agree, not urban at all

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