Here is the latest blog in the series that discuss different aspects of the ongoing (Y)our City Centre Regeneration. Here artist Peter McCaughey, Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle introduce the (Y)our Place Map: A City of Portraits – an interactive map that captures a series of portraits of the diverse voices who make up the great city of Glasgow.
Art organisation, WAVEparticle, has made a map of central Glasgow, capturing a series of portraits of the diverse voices which make up this great complicated city we live in. The portrait interviews aim to capture some of the several ‘hats’ each person ‘wears’. It focuses on those working in or living in, one of the four districts that are defined in the City Council’s City Centre Strategy: Cowcaddens, Townhead, the Learning Quarter, and the Merchant City. This Strategy aims to set out a vision and action plan for each of the nine distinct, interconnected Districts that make up the city centre.
We are working with a team of architects, transport engineers, ecologists, planners, urbanists and economists, who are attempting to read and rethink these Districts to inform the plans for their future in a two-year project called the District Regeneration Frameworks or DRF. As a team of artists, we lead on building participation from the people who live and work in these areas and thread their voices, creativity and cultural focus into the overall work. We believe that the people we encounter hold bespoke knowledge and expertise- in their own lives, and often in all sorts of other areas. We record their observations of the patterns and details of the places where they live/work. We work in the tradition of Artist as a cartographer of the personal, social, anecdotal city, charting the psychogeography, as well as noting the dog fouling and parking issues that often dominate people’s first responses to us.
The overall team has been involved in an online survey of these four Districts of Glasgow city centre using a website called Commonplace. To complement this survey we have undertaken a series of in-depth interviews that enable deeper exploration of the issues important to residents, businesses and organisations in these Districts. The aim has been to build a map filled with personal insight, the struggles and achievements of day-to-day life, the big dreams and mundane frustrations, the music, art, and poetry. We pay attention to the things that the people we speak to think work and the things they would change – particularly in the four districts under study but also across the city.
“Most people are quite open minded and are not against change. What they just want to know is if there is some coherency in the plans and if it’s not going to be just another concrete block.”
Tony Munro, Local resident and Chair of Townhead Village Hall
The map is an online resource, (Y)our Place Map: A City Of Portraits, and will grow into a network of hundreds of diverse voices and related artefacts that remind us all of our complex, multi-cultural diversity. The map’s interface has been built by artist Naomi Van Dijck, over a precise google ‘undercoat’, and its surface has been illustrated with over 30 drawings by artist Danielle Banks, that fill the map with recognisable monuments and building facades.
The interviews have been conducted mainly by myself and logged and edited by Lizzy O’Brien, Naomi and myself. The goal has been to get beyond soundbite culture to a more complex understanding of the richness, diversity and ideas of the people who make up Glasgow. We wanted the handmade feeling of the map to complement the sense of a city of individuals, who somehow come together to make communities and a whole city.
“One of the things that’s missing from regeneration are [ethnic] communities. Often regeneration is physical but there are other considerations. There is not a regeneration organisation or group for ethnic minorities”
– Mohammed Razaq, Executive Director, West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
COVID has dictated that many of these interviews have taken place in people’s homes, via Zoom or Microsoft teams, so we have lost out on our preference of speaking to people in the place they are responding to. COVID guidelines have also restricted our preferred unplanned, peripatetic encounter, so we’ve had to work harder to get to the people often neglected in participative processes, and ultimately, we have had to identify ambassadors for these communities and go to them. At this early stage, the map has gaps, geographically and in terms of diversity. This underscores our experience on other projects recently, that the harder to reach have become even harder to reach during COVID, especially given that the use of some of our approaches and customised tools are restricted by current guidance.
“I’m the last shop in Glasgow that fixes small appliances, small shops are disappearing. Big companies produce goods that you throw away when they break. I am 62, when I retire the shop will go.”
– Mr. Avtar Singh, Local businessman, connected to SEMSA, an organisation to bring ethnic minorities together
Nonetheless, the experience is and has been, inspiring, illuminating, and educational, and sometimes frustrating – there are brilliant ideas out there for solutions relating to transport, urban realm, housing, social and cultural challenges but people often feel disempowered to make these changes. Ultimately our goal is to help shape an understanding of the city within these communities, our wider team, and the City Council, and by doing so, change the city for the better.
To us, this is all common-sense. The work is founded in a deep and fundamental belief in the resource the next person we meet represents, be they homeless, asylum seeker or refugee, shopkeeper, a retired worker, unemployed person, company director, street cleaner, student, visitor or long-term resident, and irrespective of their creed, skin colour, employment status, age or mobility. When someone in the marketing department of Glasgow City Council decided on the brand People Make Glasgow they tapped into a fundamental truth, beyond the cliché; people really do make Glasgow and a city full of acknowledged, empowered citizens is a wonderful, vibrant, diverse, innovative creative place- a place of resilience in hard times.
“It’s been a difficult time. Luckily we still have a lot of support from the Chinese community. I cooked food for the NHS during COVID. I am 62, I want to give back to the community, I would join a Cowcaddens community Council.”
Maria Lees, Local businesswoman, owns the Chinatown restaurant
It’s a great privilege to be an in-betweener on such projects and to explore how a type of devolved, integrated networking of knowledge and culture might inform the hard-physical infrastructure of roads and housing, lighting and surface drainage. The esoteric, the lyrical, the pragmatic-the imagined city, the annoying kerb, the derelict and the revamped site, the deep history and event-nature city, sit side by side, dance arm in arm and our perceptions of who we are, and how we are, somehow knitted into the fabric of where we are.
The map is a moveable feast and will grow over the next year. Our thanks to all contributors to date.
Get in touch with the (Y)our City Centre project team if you have an idea or issue you want to discuss to improve these four city centre Districts. And keep contributing thoughts and suggestions on the Commonplace website.
Peter McCaughey is the Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle.
As Lead Artist of WAVEparticle Peter has curated and delivered artwork for temporary installations and permanent commissions, as well as leading on community animation, place-making and masterplanning projects across the UK.
As announced by the First Minister on 17 November, Glasgow is now in Tier 4, effectively putting the city into lockdown once again. Consequentially, all our lives will be further impacted, with all but essential retail being forced to close. In addition, bars, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, and indoor gyms have also been forced to shut. It is hoped that by intervening now, people will be able to enjoy Christmas with more freedom. However, outdoor gyms, click and collect services, outdoor retail services, takeaways, schools, colleges, and universities will remain open.
Nevertheless, there are still things on offer within the city centre. For instance, there are two walking tours: The City Centre Mural Trail and the Contemporary Art Trail. Both tours could be done socially distanced if anyone wants to get out. Restrictions in Tier 4 still maintain that six individuals, from two households, can still meet up outside. Both walking tours are free to use, with GCC City Centre Regeneration team providing an app and a story map that can be accessed online (please see below for links). The app and story map provides text and audio on each piece of art, outlining when it was created, who by, what amenities are close by etc. Both walks offer a fun way to explore Glasgow City Centre, with pieces of art located within each city centre district.
In addition, the cycle lane infrastructure within the city centre has improved, with cycle lanes now accessible along Clyde Street, down to the Riverside Museum and the cycle lanes established on Sauchiehall Street as part of the Avenues project.
To access the City Centre Mural Trail app and audio map, go to:
The Contemporary Art Trail app and audio map can be accessed at:
Here is the fifth blog in a series that discuss different aspects of (Y)our City Centre Regeneration.
The end of the 20th century saw declining trends in high street retail habits and city centre population density. More recently, the number of people looking to live within city centres is on the rise; however, to encourage continued growth there is a need for spaces to be reshaped and reinvigorated to breathe new life into them and make them fit for the future. The District Regeneration Frameworks (DRF) are an opportunity to re-imagine what our city looks like, what it offers people, shape how we can move around it, and ensure it responds to the climate emergency and the challenges COVID-19 has presented.
Glasgow is already a thriving, vital city, that wants to drive more improvements, promoting itself as an attractive, sustainable, economically viable, vibrant and liveable city. A city where more people have more opportunities and a greater desire to gather, socialise, live, shop and work. These opportunities encourage investment, economic growth and increased residential expansion. This can be facilitated by adopting a ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ approach, whereby access to day-to-day public amenities and community facilities can be accessed by a 20-minute, or half-mile, walk; with high quality, reliable and affordable mass transit systems providing links to other neighbourhoods. This is a significant departure from the historic ‘zonal’ development pattern of suburban residential schemes and out-of-town shopping centres and retail parks.
As people who engineer and design our built environment, we need to be highly socially aware and emotionally intelligent. We need to recognise that decisions occur in complex political environments where multiple stakeholders, holding different values and conflicting goals, interact and make decisions together. We know that talent diversity and process disruption are the best way to enable progress and success needs to be measured not by traditional methods but by how a citizen experiences a place and our impact on the natural environment.
Nature-based choices and ‘green engineering’ are at the heart of this approach, which in turn helps our city be more climate-resilient. These principles are evident in the work we have done so far on the ‘Avenues’ project. Our collaborative design approach with Glasgow City Council and Urban Movement outlines a fundamental reallocation of space; putting people and experience first, rather than motor vehicles, with existing carriageway space being liberated and re-purposed for the installation of ‘green and blue’ infrastructure and improved pedestrian and cycling provision.
For two years, we have carried out an extensive consultation and engagement programme, with a broad range of stakeholders, to help us gain an understanding of what people want, need and what is possible. This programme has helped us to generate our designs for the city which, in many locations, result in up to 20% of the available public realm being retrofitted to meaningfully incorporate ‘green and blue’ infrastructure in the form of rain gardens and street trees. There are widened uncluttered pavements which are even and level underfoot. There is dedicated cycle infrastructure. There is space to sit, socialise and dwell in an attractive environment that provides direct access to nature. These interventions will go some way to tackle the challenges of climate resilience and the inherent issues of surface water management, air quality, and urban heat island effects, whilst providing biodiversity and improving the general attractiveness of the space.
The Avenues project is considered to be an enabler to achieving many of the aims of the City Centre Strategy and the District Regeneration Frameworks through the re-imagining of a number of key city centre thoroughfares. The Avenues themselves can be regarded as a series of armatures on which to build a wider network of climate resilience, biodiversity, and active travel opportunities throughout each District and beyond; forming the basis of aspirational, attractive, contemporary city living.
We recognise the privileged position and responsibility we have in being able to directly influence the lives of the people who use these places each day and night; whether as space they live in, space they work in, space they socialise in, or just a space they travel through. Through wide-reaching consultation with communities, disability access groups, shoppers, landlords, retailers, educational facilities, public transport operators, and utility companies, we have a deeper understanding of what a design should deliver and how this must vary depending on the location, characteristics and history of each space.
Stephen O’Malley and Scott Manning are from Civic Engineers; a civil, structural and transport engineering practice at the forefront of innovative design, creating inspirational structures and places that have a positive impact on the environment and enable people to lead healthier and happier lives.
Civic Engineers are part of the team working to prepare District Regeneration Frameworks for Cowcaddens, Townhead, the Learning Quarter and the Merchant City. They are also lead consultant on Block A of the Enabling Infrastructure Integrated Public Realm project (EIIPR), colloquially known as the ‘Avenues’.
Here is the fourth blog in a series that discusses different aspects of the ongoing (Y)our City Centre District Regeneration Frameworks. Here Dr Mark Robertson, Managing Partner of Ryden considers the property market context for Glasgow post-Covid and post-Brexit.
Ryden is delighted to once again contribute to Austin Smith:Lord’s regeneration frameworks for Glasgow city centre. Our role is to bring property market optimism, with a healthy dose of realism, to plans to continue the successful regeneration of the city centre.
I would argue that Glasgow already has the strongest regeneration story among the UK’s regional cities, including ‘Manctopia’. From the peripheral housing estates inwards to the Transformational Regeneration Areas, Clyde Gateway, the waterfront to date and Clyde Mission and City Deal now and for the future – these are not simply physical projects but have embedded strong socio-economics and increasing environmental benefits. In the core city centre, there is no question that Glasgow’s Central Business – and shopping, eating and drinking – District is post-regeneration and a great success, although it will benefit from more residents and some better spaces between buildings.
The four areas we are now analysing are part of this defined city centre. They have established populations, great civic value and anchor institutions such as the universities and hospital – in total a remarkable 15,000 properties. But, at the outer edges, they can each appear unloved and rather remote from the city centre proper. It is a short walk but can feel like a long way from Buchanan Street to parts of Cowcaddens, Townhead and the inner east end. The wider context matters too, as the fast-improving north (Port Dundas and Sighthill), inner East End and south push inwards – creating the prospects for these Districts to be urban bridges between the core city centre and the wider conurbation.
The property markets we work with have undergone massive change: we are now working post-privatisation (a long time ago, in the 1980s and 90s), post-Global Financial Crisis (2008) and very soon post-Brexit and hopefully post-COVID. This context matters: property markets are ever-more risk-averse and prefer to invest in the best locations for the most valuable occupiers – branded hotels, leisure, shops and office occupiers such as government, banks and utilities. These major occupiers are attracted to Glasgow and bring great investment benefits. But, in the coming market, there are likely to be fewer of them. The city centre must continue to target and win this prime investment where possible, but now also turn to its puzzling long term vacancies, under-used buildings and gap sites and the city centre edges – if it is to continue to grow and improve its offer to the broadest possible mix of residents, businesses and visitors.
As demonstrated by the regeneration programmes noted above, Glasgow has never lost its capacity to tackle market challenges. It still can and does face into areas requiring planning, early funding and market support. The city will need all of these skills and its celebrated optimism to deliver the potential of the four Districts, but now is the time and these are the places to build the platform for that change.
Mark is Managing Partner of Ryden. He has led many notable property consultancy projects in Glasgow, including the city centre strategy, Transformational Regeneration Areas, Clyde Gateway regeneration, International Financial Services District, Clyde Waterfront and, with Austin Smith:Lord, the city centre Districts Regeneration Frameworks. Mark has edited Ryden’s Scottish Property Review for 27 years, is on the policy boards of SPF and SCDI, is a fellow of the RICS and teaches MSc property investment appraisal.
On 3 September 2020, Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee approved the Glasgow Begging Strategy (GBS) for 6-week public consultation which will begin on 11 September 2020.
This document has been developed by a Short Life Working Group (SLWG) which was established as a multi-partner forum. Chaired by Councillor Allan Casey, the SLWG comprised a wide range of public sector agencies, third sector groups, and private businesses and business networks, including Glasgow City Mission, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP), the Marie Trust, Turning Point Scotland, Homeless Network Scotland, Simon Community Scotland, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and the City Centre Retailers Association. Importantly, people with lived (or personal) experience of street begging were involved in the development of the Glasgow Begging Strategy and will continue to be involved in its implementation going forward.
The Glasgow Begging Strategy involves a number of measures intended to help people currently engaged in street begging to move onto more positive destinations.
A key feature of the strategy is Street Change Glasgow (SCG), a new alternative giving scheme which was launched earlier this year with a public donation point installed in Central Station. Another three city centre venues (The Cathouse, The Garage and 29) already have similar donation points and more are planned for other locations.
SCG offers the public an alternative option to dropping change into a cup – a kindness which only helps the recipient short term and seeks to help vulnerable people improve their lives long term. The fund will be led and managed by Simon Community Scotland and payments will be made to individuals via Glasgow’s Street Team which works with people on the streets and is funded by GCHSCP.
This alternative giving scheme is one of four Key Projects outlined in GBS which will assist existing services and initiatives which help vulnerable people in Glasgow.
During the public consultation exercise, you can view and participate here
The draft Glasgow Begging Strategy can be downloaded from here
Further information about Street Change Glasgow can be found here
Like many people impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, DRS City Centre Regeneration have endeavoured to maintain as much functionality as possible while being restricted to working from home, and this has led to the development of some innovative outputs to ensure our projects remain effective. For instance, we have recently created a new Audio Map to support the existing City Centre Mural Trail web-app.
Since 2015, Glasgow City Council has provided free, guided walking tours as part of the annual Glasgow Door Open Day (GDOD) events. This year, due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, GDOD event organisers had asked participating organisations to create alternative activities which would be compliant with the physical distancing guidance. Responding to this request, we investigated the possibility of creating a “virtual”, guided walking tour which users could access from the comfort of their own homes. It was this idea which led to the formation of the Audio Map This StoryMap based application uses spoken-word audio clips to convey information about each mural and some interesting features about the surrounding areas. As a result, the City Centre Mural Trail will still be included in this year’s Glasgow Doors Open Day calendar of events, albeit in this revised format. Furthermore, this new functionality can now be used by people with visual or mobility impairments who would typically be reluctant or physically incapable of visiting the murals, as it will remain a feature of the CCMT web-app going forward.
In other mural related news, the City Centre Mural Trail has recently been awarded Traveller’s Choice status by Trip Advisor due to the high levels of positive feedback which the installations continue to receive from local residents and visitors to the city. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped support this initiative over the years.
Finally, the refresh of the artwork which previously adorned The Clutha bar is now nearing completion thanks to the amazing efforts of Art Pistol and around a dozen artists who’ve lent their immense talents to the project, adding some vital colour and vibrancy to the area. We hope that the new refresh proves to be as popular as its predecessor.