A multidisciplinary team lead by MVRDV has been selected by Glasgow City Council to bring a collaborative and international expertise to their strategy for the regeneration of the 400ha city centre that will transform it into a more liveable, attractive, competitive and sustainable centre for all Glaswegians.
Today Glasgow’s city centre is a wonderful historical ensemble but it faces – as with many post-industrial cities - challenges including some vacant buildings, under-utilised plots, changes in retail patterns, city centre living, public open space, safety and traffic.
Jeroen Zuidgeest has been in charge of the design development and project management at MVRDV.
“The (Y)our City Centre strategy is a hands-on, layered approach with a series of projects that range in scale, that will collectively contribute to the ‘upgrade’ of the city, to boost the liveliness, attractiveness and competitiveness of the city in a larger (inter)national context, allowing for a gradual development by many stakeholders’’ says Jeroen Zuidgeest, former MVRDV partner and architect.
Glasgow’s vibrant city centre is the heart of Scotland’s economy. 135,000 people work here and it offers Glaswegians and tourists a mix of leisure, culture, shopping and entertainment experiences.
In the past decades, the city has established an International Financial Services district and a regenerated Merchant City area which have added growth to the tourism and financial sectors, in spite of the tough economic conditions in recent years. Progress aside, the centre faces large urban challenges including vacant buildings, inefficient use of public space, vast separating infrastructure, car-dominated streets, lack of public and green spaces, low residential inhabitants and high emissions.
Under the wider umbrella of (Y)our City Centre, a collaborative framework initiated by Glasgow City Council will transform the centre into a lively, green, livable, attractive and competitive area. A centre not only thriving in commerce but one that importantly is re-populated by more Glaswegians residents considering only approximately 20,000 people currently live there.
All four edges of the city centre are very challenging areas, for a variety of reasons. The potentially stunning riverside is underused, inaccessible and unattractive. The city centre is defined at its edges by the River Clyde, the M8 motorway and the High Street, and changes are needed to all of them. A reimagined urban motorway and road system, for example, will allow for a better integration of the M8 into the city. The aim here is to revive the qualities of these edges in order to re-connect adjacent neighbourhoods back to the centre. This will enable better use of the abundance of unused spaces for leisure, sports, events, open green spaces and also enhance pedestrian and cycle connections.
Taking on a holistic and integrated approach, the idea here is to fill up unused plots and utilise existing infrastructure i.e. making them more versatile, mixed and smart in their functions. The under-used Clyde riverfront offers an unmissable opportunity for connecting and re-energising the four districts up for redevelopment - Broomielaw, Blythswood, St Enoch and Central. This will create a positive impact on the centre with the potential to extend out to the wider city limits.
Glasgow is at a stage where collaborative efforts involving all stakeholders must result in long-term strategies that will ensure its future development into a world-class international city. These must now be put in place to ensure visions for a more attractive, greener, inviting and efficient city centre.