Aberdeen, a city in Scotland, is not only transforming its urban center into a garden and cultural center, but also making sure the proposed designs suits the needs of the public. An upcoming referendum will gauge public support for the designs created by landscape architects OLIN, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Scottish architects KeppieDesign, which won an international design competition.
OLIN writes that the new City Garden will be a “reinvigorated green heart of the city,” doubling the urban core’s current size. A key concept is to reconnect the dramatic landscape of Aberdeen into the city via a “web of paths.” This web will provide opportunities for visitors to explore a diverse set of gardens harking back to Aberdeen’s rich natural and cultural history. ”The gardens’ planting palettes will mimic the regional landscape and ecology of Northeast Scotland and be supplemented with plants from its European neighbors and other parts of the world.”
In addition to providing sensory stimulation, the gardens will promote local horticultural skills. “Underlying the design of the landscape is a desire both to engage and teach.” Buildings and landscapes will work together to create micro-climates, offering buffers from the harsher aspects of local weather. All native plants will be used to ensure local fauna also take home in the garden city. By showing what sustainability looks like in practice, the designers hope that they can engage residents of Aberdeen in a civic dialogue about the future of their environment.
The new green space will also provide a home to a new ”landmark cultural and arts centre,” which also promotes the city’s historic streets, ”revealing the arches, vaults and bridge on Union Street and retaining the balustrades and statues which are part of Aberdeen’s legacy,” writes Malcolm Reading Consultants, the group that managed the competition. In their article, Charles Renfro, the lead architect on the project, summed up the idea of the new city center: “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.”