Aberdeen City Council is seeking a design team for a £17 million revamp of Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) – four years after abandoning Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s (DS+R) contentious proposals
Planned to complete in 2019, the project will restore the sunken Victorian garden which has remained unchanged since the New York firm’s £140 million makeover was scrapped.
Transformed into a park in 1879, the prominent city centre site would have been infilled and raised to street level under the private-public proposal known as the City Garden Project (pictured).
DS+R won a high-profile international contest for the scheme which replaced earlier competition-winning plans by Brisac Gonzales Architecture for an arts centre on the same site.
Despite a city-wide referendum in support of the ambitious overhaul – supported by a £50 million donation from oil entrepreneur Ian Wood – councillors voted in favour of a less expensive programme of city centre upgrades in 2012.
The latest project will restore the gardens and new create artists’ studios, cafés and a gallery in the arches alongside an amphitheatre and a bridge from Union Street to Belmont Street. An extension of the gardens to Denburn and Woolmanhill in the north may also be included.
According to the brief: ‘This design commission will deliver a transformational regeneration scheme for UTG that is not simply about historic restoration of the site but must also deliver a functional, attractive and active environment that will become a favourite space for residents, workers and visitors to Aberdeen City Centre.
‘The ambition is to enhance the status of the gardens and to build upon this unique destination in Aberdeen, offering traditional park experiences alongside new ideas for events, retail, horticulture, art and technology in the park.
‘Key to this will be the enhancement of visual and physical access into and through the gardens and improving connectivity to the surrounding city.’
The winner of the £750,000 contract will review an existing conceptual masterplan, analyse feedback from previous consultations and draw up detailed plans for the gardens. Management of the construction process up to handover and close out will also be required.
The chosen team will be expected to include an architect, landscape architect, structural engineer, lighting designer, sustainability consultant, cost consultant and commercial consultant.
The deadline for applications is 4pm on 25 July.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Aberdeen City Council
Tel: +44 1224523356
- Neil Baxter, RIAS secretary and treasurer
This sounds like a very sensible approach to revitalising the gardens. We wish Aberdeen well with this endeavour. The architectural profession tends to show goodwill and get behind good ideas. This would seem like such an opportunity. Hopefully the competition will require the necessary minimum of work from competitors (ie indicative rather than detailed proposals) in order to reach a decision.
Public construction procurement in Scotland is going through significant change. Compliance with the new regulations and full compliance with Europe, particularly in an open competition, may present challenges. I am sure the Council’s advisors will be fully aware of these issues.