Aberdeen City Garden Trust has announced Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) as winner of the international design competition that will transform the center of Aberdeen. The New York City based firm will be working with the Scottish practice Keppie Design and Philadelphia landscape architects OLIN. The “rich and varied” shortlist included Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Foster + Partners, Gustafson Porter, Mecanoo, Snøhetta & Hoskins and West 8. After an extended run-off between DS+R and Foster + Partners, the Aberdeen City Garden competition will be DS+R’s first major win in a European design competition.
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The £140m City Garden Project will radically transform the center, raising the nineteenth-century Union Terrace Gardens and covering over the “unattractive” Denburn dual carriageway and railway line.
The six hectare site will provide a safe, year-round civic garden that “reflects Aberdeen’s success and international status.” The existing Union Street retail and business thoroughfare will be integrated with the cultural attractions of an existing theater and art gallery whilst providing the context for a new contemporary arts center.
DS+R’s winning proposal, known as Granite Web, “celebrates the three-dimensional aspects of Aberdeen, reinterpreting the topography of the Denburn Valley and the dramatic cascade of the existing Union Terrace Gardens while creating graceful new spaces and structures that contribute to a memorable and thrilling contemporary design.”
It will provide additional usable green space, a landmark cultural and arts center, and promote the City’s historic streets, revealing the arches, vaults and bridge on Union Street and preserving the balustrades and statues which are part of Aberdeen’s heritage.
DS+R Partner, Charles Renfro stated, “While the City Garden is at the heart of Aberdeen, the heart has little pulse…we feel that we can make that heart throb and bring life and energy into the centre of town. By making the park greener, more accommodating to passive and active uses, more engaged at its edges, the gardens can become a magnet for this otherwise youthful and energetic city. We feel particularly well- suited to this challenge – the project reflects an integration of landscape design, museum design and design for the performing arts, the primary focuses of our practice.”
Competition organizer, Malcolm Reading commented, “This is such an exciting outcome and a great coup for the city. This ingenious and inspiring design for Aberdeen’s key public space gives the city a new social landscape but one rooted in its extraordinarily rich heritage and natural assets.”
“The runner-up concept, by Foster and Partners was outstanding, elegant and thoughtful, but did not, in the end, persuade the Jury that it could match the promise of connectivity, excitement and spatial diversity of the winning scheme.”
The Aberdeen City Garden Project team has been working along with Aberdeen City Council and consultants PWC to develop a solid business plan for funding the project as part of the wider city center regeneration scheme. The winning concept will be subject to a referendum the will reveal the public support. Detailed designs will be produced for a planning application.
Reference: Aberdeen City Garden Project