Since ACSEF began its on-going programme of engagement with business, the one constant theme - after transport - is concern and disappointment with our city centre. This relates to its physical appearance, as much as the lack of amenities and safety issues. The regeneration and redevelopment of the CITY centre is therefore one of our key priority areas - the city should be the key cultural, civic and centre of the REGION
Why are ASCEF championing these proposal? It is safe to say that there is universaI agreement that the city centre faces challenges. The distinct separation between the day and night time cultures, the disconnection within the City Centre, the lack of facilities for families with children, the poor links to the train station………. Its not just us, There have been many studies that support this acknowledgment. Two most recent reports that have compared Aberdeen to other cities are – The Demos report compared Aberdeen Edinburgh & Glasgow in terms of attracting and retaining talent – providing the skills and knowledge for our business now and in the future. Support hubs for cultural & social activity Use the strong culture of enterprise Socialise & animate cultural programme & public realm Support stronger branding of the city region The mid sized cities review compared Aberdeen to Bristol, Aarhus in Denmark, Stavanger, Calgary and Huntsville USA. As you can see they were not particularly positive! Lack of contemporary iconic buildings Lack of culture and arts offer Attract more events – sporting and cultural Create long term vision and investment plan Recognising these issues, ACSEF is spearheading this transformational project to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre, securing jobs, generating wealth in the long-term and enhancing the region’s quality of life. Creating a new vibrant heart for Aberdeen is a unique opportunity for us to become a world energy centre and to put us on the “must visit” list, attracting people and businesses and future investment. Research shows that a vibrant city centre is vital to the economic success of a city region. To avoid a major economic decline as North Sea activity wanes, Aberdeen needs to become an Eastern Hemisphere oil capital and then a world energy city, renowned for oil and gas and alternative energy. We will only achieve this if we have a significantly improved city centre. Great cities need to be attractive, offer good employment opportunities and diverse activities to retain people and business. ACSEF’s vision is to create a more attractive, greener, better-connected, safer city centre. A unique civic space for everyone to enjoy day and night. Invest in daytime & evening economy
Aberdeen city centre needs regeneration indeed transformation – this means we have to be bold in our ambition for the city and believe that the city can be reclaimed for the majority of the population both during the day and at night. This is about restoring confidence and pride in our city. The impact of regenerating an underused and unsafe location right in the middle of the city centre will stimulate investment on the adjacent streets and Union Street – we need vision and leadership.. To create a destination that will raise the profile and attractiveness of the city to visitors we need an iconic development – our aspiration would be the likes of Tate Scotland. In Scotland this approach has worked for Dundee on the back of their plans for the development of the Waterfront they have now attracted the V&A and are seeking to raise another £47m in addition to the £33m already secured. On an international basis many of us will recall the Beaubourg effect when the George Pompidouu Centre opened in Paris in the 1970’s and more recently the Guggenheim in Bibao. These were sufficiently iconic to transform and regenerate parts of the city and in Bilbao transform its reputation and tourism performance. Our goal is to achieve that here in Aberdeen. A weakness of the Peacock development is that its appeal is principally to those that will use the facilities and the buildings lack of visibility and the current reputation of the location are a real risk- this was recognised in the Ekos evaluation pf the project. It was supported by the public sector funders as it does fill a recognised gap in the contemporary arts offering in the region. Delivering a major iconic development will need strong leadership and tenacity and funding– the AWPR and the Trump development have been a real test for the North east of Scotland. The outcome has been achieved but the journey as we have all watched unfold can be tortuous.
Three options were fully raise, partially decked scheme and the enhancement of the existing gardens incorporating PVA scheme. ACSEF choose the fully raised scheme because it was the option that incorporated all the
Aberdeen is walk able in scale which is quite unique - but in reality it is disjointed and lacking cohesion or connective tissue. We find ourselves today – quite ironically because of lack of investment in the past - with a real opportunity - to create a connected city centre - both in terms of people being able to move around and in terms of design and layout. The scale of the project proposed is transformational. It must also be aspirational if it is to capture the imagination of everyone including potential funders. That is why we are looking at best practice from other international cities and setting the bar high in terms of overall design. The project concept has been considered three times in the past 20 years – but it lacked scale and ambition and was unable to attract external and private sector funding. Each time the project has been supported by the City Council and across the community. Sir Ian Wood has been the catalyst to bring this project back to life and ACSEF has led the project development for over a year now. A technical appraisal was undertaken by a truly world class team and published in June 2009. This appraisal provided outline costs and early design concepts for the creation of Aberdeen’s new heart.
To create a vibrant and accessible cultural heart that will be a focal point for visitors and citizens to Aberdeen's city centre The proposal is to redevelop the strategically located central area of the city centre - Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn Valley, the adjacent railway line and Denburn dual Carriageway this would reclaim over 5 acres of city centre space. We are aiming to transform this location and create a central destination that will provide a safe all year round civic space that attracts people to it and from where the whole city can open up. And create a new space of 21 st Century design with inspiring landscape architecture that truly matches up to Aberdeen’s success; it’s international status and to restore a sense of civic pride. Well here’s the raw material !! We understand that there are people who don’t want change or have a preference for small scale incremental development development – this is not an easy site to work with and there will be one chance to transform is from its current state – if we want to move it from being a no go area for the majority. There are people who welcome the fact that they will have somewhere safe to go in the city and can see the potential and imagine what this are could look like transformed into a well designed 21 st century city square and gardens, -
Lets dispel some myths. The square will not be a flat sheet of concrete. As you can see from the images, there is a relatively significant change in level between Union Terrace and Belmont Street, which will have to be allowed for. The red line shows where a direct line from Union Terrace would hit Belmont Street. The broken blue line shows the minimum clearance required over the road and railway. The difference is about a storey and a half. The result is that any scheme will naturally have to use sloping or stepped landscaping to work with the gradients of the site.
One of the key benefits of the development is making the city centre easily walkable North to South both at street level and the layer below back into the theatre and through under Union Bridge to the rail and bus station and Union Square.
An early aerial view of the site with a street level access layer
Looking above the Mall Trinity you get a sense of the area to work with on a design.
Here you see a different perspectives showing how the internal space looking towards Union Street. This would reveal the wonderful skyline of Belmont Street and the beautiful heritage of the building facing onto the Denburn Valley that simply cannot be admired today. The image also demonstrates the different levels that could be incorporated within the concourse level.
We want to develop a civic square which future generations can be proud of and one which will reflect Aberdeen’s growing reputation as a global energy hub. It will allow us to highlight Aberdeen’s distinguished history while helping move the city forward to a thriving future. It will open up the fantastic architecture that at the moment is sometime hidden from view – in Union Terrace and Belmont Street. It’s a place to discover – new experiences in performing arts, visual arts, sculptures, street entertainment – a cultural vibrancy. A focal point for gatherings – potential for an ampitheatre, to celebrate international music but also to encourage our own local musicians. A showcase for regional food and drink, a vibrant café culture - a place with style. It will be a place that can be enjoyed by all sectors of our community regardless of the weather throughout the year. The square will be a central point for the city both in terms of being a key destination and linking transport and pedestrian routes.
A central meeting place for the many and not the few
It will allow us to highlight Aberdeen’s distinguished history while helping move the city forward to a thriving future It will open up the fantastic architecture that at present is somewhat hidden form view.
A place to discover new experiences in performing arts, visual arts, sculptures and and street entertainment – a cultural vibrancy
A focalpoint for gatherings potential for an amphitheatre to celebrate international music and host and encourage local talent and musicians.
A location to host our main existing celebrations and the potential to attract a new range of cultural and entertainment events into Aberdeen City Centre
It will be a place that can be enjoyed by all sectors of the community regardless of the weather though out the year
A showcase for regional food and drink a vibrant café culture – a place with style
The Square will be a central point for the city both in terms of linking transport and pedestrian routes and being a key destination in the heart of the city
The images I am about to show are not set in stone but are there to get the conversation and ideas flowing. This is Aberdeen’s one chance to create a space which can substantially improve the quality of life for those who work and live here. A space that everyone can enjoy and access. Raising the gardens would bring the city centre into the sunlight. The elevation and covering of the Denburn would allow the back of Belmont Street, which gets the most of the day’s sun, to be opened up. This image tries to demonstrate the vibrant and cosmopolitan café culture enjoyed by many cities in Europe, including those on the same latitude as us! The City Square project is about creating a space for future generations. Right now companies trying to attract staff to Aberdeen keep them away from Union Street and the City Centre. This redevelopment has the potential to enable us to anchor main industries within the region, put us on the ‘must visit’ list and help us attract and retain people, businesses and future investment.
We envision this space as a place where children can play, where everyone can enjoy ‘hanging out’ in the green space, with fantastic public art, great cafes and restaurants and exciting street entertainment. A space that provides a cultural focus for the city and a convenient escape from the hubbub of surrounding areas. A space that helps to create ‘linger’ time in the City – so we don’t just see the City as a place to work, or shop – or to spend our Friday and Saturday nights – but a space to come and spend time and enjoy, day or evening.
ACSEF believes that the City Square Project offers a potentially transformational scheme for Aberdeen. Scottish Enterprise supported the Peacock proposals because they added value to the City Centre. However, the City Square Project potentially offers something on a truly different scale that will be accessible to all and help drive the growth and regeneration of the city centre at the heart of the City and Shire region. In this image you can see how we very much plan for a contemporary arts centre to be a core element of the City Square Project. The building you can see here would have the same benefits as the existing Peacock design but be sited within a bigger scheme with increased footfall and therefore better commercial viability as well as significantly lower development costs. This has been offered to Peacock and if the project goes ahead we very much hope they will be part of it. The additional outdoor space will create the potential for exciting events and concerts.
As the plans and ideas have evolved for the City Square project we’ve drawn on inspiration from other cities who already have thriving city spaces such as Melbourne, Chicago and Houston and have taken some of the best ideas that we think could work in Aberdeen. The examples are all very different, but what they have in common is a spirit of community and we hope to mirror these cultural quarters whether it’s a café society, gardens, arts and events. Federation Square in Melbourne has become one of Victoria’s most popular visitor attraction. Built over a railway line and contains a museum, two public spaces – one open and one covered. Initially the scheme was controversial, particularly because of its architecture, but tha thas now dramatically changed - in a recent survey 90% of people now support it. Built over railway Contains galleries, restaurants, 2 public spaces (1 covered), museum, large public screen Changed local opinion from negative to 90% support Popular for performances, cultural gatherings, celebrations Victoria’s most popular tourist attraction
Millennium Park in Chicago was funded through public and private investment. Developed over a disused car park and rail yard it now provides venues for performance, art, sculpture, architecture and landscape architecture – and artist Anish Kapoor’s famous sculpture shown here. The Square have boosted tourism income by over $2bn.
Discovery Green in Houston is a 22 acre development across in what was once a completely no go area in downtown Houston. The City may be on a different scale to ours – there are still valuable lessons to learn from their success. The Mayor led the campaign and established a public private partnership trust which runs Discovery Green today. In the early stage of the development of this project the team studied other successful urban green development – they understood that urban parks attracted people woh want tranquility but also to envcourage activity. Discovery green is committed to sustainable design and operation. It host 400 events annually and has become an important destination in the city – and includes Childrens playground, an amphitheatre. Public sculptures and artworks, interactive water features and spacious green lawns.
The vision is to create a more attractive, greener, better connected and safer city centre. A unique civic space for everyone to enjoy day and night. Feasibility studies have demonstrated that the idea is both technically possible and economically viable. Now it is up to the public to say what features they would like to see in such an iconic public space and whether they support such an ambition for our City Centre.
Aberdeen’s new heart “ Ab erdeen City Centre must be the vibrant heart of the region, the hub for all those that live, work and visit, be that for business or pleasure.“ ACSEF Manifesto
Why do we need to transform our city centre? <ul><li>Two recent studies include: </li></ul><ul><li>DEMOS The Place Race Feb 2008 - attracting and retaining talent </li></ul><ul><li>Experian Small and Medium Sized City Regions Research July 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>“ the city centre is recognised as a strategic weakness in regional offer” </li></ul>
What is our vision and ambition? <ul><li>to attract new people to stay and work in the city </li></ul><ul><li>create a new ‘heart’ and an area for performing arts and culture </li></ul><ul><li>grow lifestyle onto the streets and public spaces and city centre </li></ul><ul><li>re-establish a night time economy in the city centre not dominated by drink </li></ul><ul><li>attract companies and people; retain and capture visitor and retail spend and revitalise tourism in the city centre </li></ul><ul><li>create a major tourism destination in the city centre </li></ul>
<ul><li>The solution … The City Square Project: </li></ul><ul><li>Create 5 acres of city square and gardens </li></ul><ul><li>Walk on, walk off, street level access </li></ul><ul><li>Improve accessibility to green space </li></ul><ul><li>Cover the road and railway </li></ul><ul><li>2.5 acres all-weather covered space underneath </li></ul><ul><li>Provide easy access to rail and bus </li></ul><ul><li>Cost £120-£140 million. </li></ul><ul><li>A proposal to create a city centre that is: </li></ul><ul><li>vibrant and dynamic city centre </li></ul><ul><li>a destination </li></ul><ul><li>inclusive and accessible to all </li></ul><ul><li>a safe green and tranquil space </li></ul><ul><li>is iconic in its design </li></ul><ul><li>reflects our economic success and confidence in the future </li></ul><ul><li>a place for major events </li></ul>
What stage are we at? <ul><li>SE commissioned a technical feasibility study of the three options for Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn Valley </li></ul><ul><li>Report presented to ACSEF who championed fully raised scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Next stage is to consult with the people of the North East to seek their view on what should be incorporated into the scheme and to determine their support for such a major project </li></ul>
Millennium Park Chicago, USA <ul><li>24 acre park </li></ul><ul><li>Transformed dilapidated parking lot and rail yard </li></ul><ul><li>Venues for performance, art, sculpture, architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Over 500 cultural events a year </li></ul><ul><li>Cost $490 million, $270 million from private sector </li></ul><ul><li>Increased tourism revenues by $2.6 billion </li></ul>