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Union Terrace Gardens competition open for entries

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A two-stage design competition for the contentious redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, Scotland was launched today (19 April)

Run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, the competition brief is to create a green space, events area and cultural centre on a six hectare site covering Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn Valley dual carriageway and railway.

Brisac Gonzalez’s Peacock Visual Arts centre proposal for the site was controversially shelved last year when Aberdeen Council decided to pursue an alternative £140 million project, backed by local businessman Ian Woods. The studio won planning permission to build on the site in 2007.

According to the competition organisers, the city centre park suffers from poor access, circulation and ‘changes of level’ causing it to be ‘under-used despite its huge potential as a green public-cultural space’.

The project aims to create a ‘new spatial relationship with the Green and Union Square’ by improving street level access between the city and the area.

Malcolm Reading said: ‘This a rare opportunity to re-design the centre of this eminent city, creating sparkling green public spaces and new routes, connecting areas that have become detached, and providing a place for fun outdoor events and exciting new cultural  buildings.

‘For any designer passionate about cities and how to make them inspiring and alive…well, this is a chance to make their name and reputation.’

The deadline for entries is 13 June, with the shortlist planned to be announced on 18 July, followed by the winner in mid-December.

Teams must be design-led and feature an urban designer, architect, structural, civil and services engineering, landscape architect and a cost consultant.

Entrants should register their interest on the competition website. A notice has also been issued in the OJEU.

Between five and seven teams will be shorlisted and asked to work up concept designs for which they will be paid an honorarium.

Dubbed the ‘City Garden Project’, previous incarnations of the Woods-backed scheme aimed to raise the level of the gardens, covering over a road and railway and creating civic and cultural facilities beneath.

Woods has already stumped up a £50million ‘first instalment’ to pay for the project, providing £400,000 to cover the costs of the competition alone.In August last year, campaigners demanded the Scottish government investigate the decision to scrap proposals for a Brisac Gonzalez-designed arts centre at the gardens.

The group alleged the City Garden Project could cost as much as £300 million.

In May last year, The RIAS described the decision to launch an international design competition for the Woods scheme as ‘inappropriate in the extreme.’

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