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.’