Design consultancy appointed for Union Terrace Gardens

Aberdeen City Council announced today that LDA Design has been chosen to draw up detailed design proposals for the city’s Union Terrace Gardens in the Denburn Valley.

LDA Design is a leading landscape architecture, urban design and environmental planning consultancy. They have delivered more than 50 Heritage Lottery Funded park restoration schemes, and new parks nationally and internationally, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and Gorky Park in Moscow (see Notes for link to images).

The consultancy has received 90 awards for contemporary and historic parkland design, urban renewal and historic town centre improvements.

LDA Design assisted in the development of the landscape framework and concept design for the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, which is being built at Bucksburn, and is currently working with Glasgow City Council on the Sighthill regeneration masterplan, creating a major public park and public realm.

The Union Terrace Gardens regeneration project will be led from LDA Design’s Glasgow office.

Aberdeen City Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing: “We are delighted to announce that LDA Design has been chosen as the consultant to draw up detailed proposals for Union Terrace Gardens, being taken forward under the City Centre Masterplan.

“LDA Design has a world-class reputation as the team behind high quality, iconic projects that demonstrate both innovation and respect for heritage.

“LDA Design faced fierce competition from nearly a dozen leading firms during a rigorous selection procedure for UTG – evidence of a desire from the country’s leading design practitioners to be part of the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan programme.

“In producing and honing detailed drawings for UTG, LDA Design will continue the process of engaging with the public and key stakeholders. Together we can secure UTG’s position as the city centre’s green jewel.”

City Council deputy leader Councillor Marie Boulton, who chairs the cross-party City Centre Regeneration Board, said: “We have a wonderful blueprint to work from in the form of the City Centre Masterplan, which contains a number of ideas for improving access, amenity and activity while showcasing the very best characteristics of this Victorian park.

“The City Centre Masterplan has cross-party political support and the backing of residents and the business community, and the focus now is on making that spectacular vision a reality.”

The City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) envisages a number of ways in which Union Terrace Gardens might be enhanced – for example, the provision of a multi-purpose events space to allow year-round events and investigating using the historic arches for retail, food and drink, and artists’ studios. Better access could involve the provision of lifts, ramps and new stairs.

In June this year the council's Finance, Policy and Resources Committee agreed to invite firms to bid to carry out the detailed design work, including costings and a business case.

A public engagement exercise to gather feedback on proposals is expected to take place towards the end of this year. Detailed plans are scheduled to go before the Council for consideration in early 2017. If approved by Council, work on the one- to two-year refurbishment would start that autumn.

Kirstin Taylor, Project Director, LDA Design, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded a project of such national and international significance.

“The City Centre Masterplan provides a powerful vision to set Aberdeen apart on the global stage and the Gardens have a huge part to play. The Masterplan attracted lots of positive local engagement which we want to harness. We see the community’s ongoing participation as key to the Gardens’ success.

“Union Terrace Gardens have great beauty and charm, and can be revitalised in a way that completely respects and enhances their 19th century heritage. They can offer traditional park enjoyment alongside new ideas and uses, and LDA Design is experienced in securing this kind of careful balance.”

LDA Design said UTG could potentially have many new uses – an activity area for children; a horticultural hotspot; a cultural hub featuring creative workspaces, artists in residence, open air exhibitions and performances.

Neil Mattinson, Board Director, LDA Design, said: “Union Terrace Gardens is intrinsically special, with a completely unexpected and unique topography. The surprise valley gives it real character and presence.”