Austin-Smith:Lord has won a competition to draw up four District Regeneration Frameworks for Glasgow’s central area and plan the city’s post Covid-19 future
The practice – working with Studio for New Realities and Urban Movement – will now create high-level strategies for the downtown Cowcaddens, Learning Quarter, Townhead and Merchant City areas of Scotland’s largest city. It will also draw up a strategy for how the city can bounce back following the Covid-19 crisis.
The appointment comes four years after MVRDV and Austin-Smith:Lord were selected to draw up the first tranche of masterplans, covering Broomielaw, Blythswood, St Enoch and the central district. They were asked to rethink approaches to vacant buildings, under-utilised plots, changes in retail patterns, city centre living, public open space, safety and traffic management.
The duo’s initial proposals for Broomielaw district were approved in June last year and their visions for St Enoch, Central and Blythswood are expected to go out for public consultation during 2020.
For the latest commission Austin-Smith:Lord is working alongside Studio for New Realities, which is a new practice set up by former MVRDV partner Jeroen Zuidgeest who previously worked on the Broomielaw, Blythswood, St Enoch and the central district frameworks.
Other collaborators include WAVEparticle which represented Scotland at the 2018 Venice Biennale and has undertaken community-led projects on High Street-Saltmarket and in Laurieston.
Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘It’s vital that our city centre is equipped for both the structural changes facing our high streets and the need for carbon neutrality within the next decade. These shifts are already creating both challenge and opportunity and the district regeneration frameworks will give us the blueprints to renew the beating heart of Glasgow.
‘A team of leading experts with international and local experience will assist us in shaping that future, whilst retaining the strengths and character we cherish about each district. We need our communities to come with us so I would urge all those whose neighbourhoods are within the frameworks to get involved in our consultation in the months ahead.’
Graham Ross, architect and urban planner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: ‘It’s a great privilege and big responsibility to be taking on the preparation of these Regeneration Frameworks with local communities in these pivotal city centre Districts.
‘Developing distinctive solutions drawing upon the creativity and wisdom of local people, in combination with international best practice, will ensure our city can thrive in the future. We will explore ways in which Glasgow can recover from the impact of Covid-19. We hope to develop imaginative and practical ways to adapt to economic and climate change that deliver enduring and positive regeneration.’
The appointment of a consultancy team comes more than a year after the local authority appointed Mackintosh School of Architecture professor Brian Evans to the newly created role of city urbanist. Evans will lead a Place Commission panel also featuring Jude Barbour of Collective Architecture and Ann Allen, chair of Architecture and Design Scotland.
The latest batch of District Regeneration Frameworks will be drawn up in consultation with local stakeholders including business, residents, cultural organisations and major institutions such as University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University and City of Glasgow College.
Key ambitions will include enhancing ‘quality of life, health and wellbeing of the local communities, economy and the environment’ and respecting the city’s ‘rich built and social heritage, diverse local culture and community assets.’ It was also look at renewal and recovery strategies for post-Covid-19 with the finished reports due to be published in late 2021 or early 2022.
Alongside the strategic visions, the council is delivering a series of public realm projects – dubbed ‘avenues’ – with support from Glasgow’s £1.13 billion City Deal investment programme.
The first public realm tranche – named Block A and covering seven areas – was awarded to Civic Engineers while the Block B tranche – featuring five areas – was awarded to Ironside Farrar. The final Block C tranche is expected to be tendered this year.
An initial framework by Gehl Architects for the Sauchiehall area was completed four years ago.