Glasgow is Scotland’s only metropolitan city and the city centre plays a critical part. In recognition of this Glasgow City Council established the City Centre Regeneration Team and in 2014 the first Strategy document ‘Getting Ahead of Change’ was launched. A key action was to create Regeneration Frameworks for each of the nine distinct city centre districts. These are evidenced based plans that involve high levels of community and stakeholder engagement. The work in Broomielaw identified Anderston Station was an area that should be improved; it was not welcoming or safe, that it is a key entry point to the city centre, and that it was a connection between the city centre and the rest of the city.
At the same time the City Centre Regeneration Team started work on the Avenues programme. This programme is part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal funding. Approximately £115 million is being invested in the city centre to deliver this programme, which will result in a transformation of the city centre's streetscape and public realm - making it more people-focused, more attractive, greener, more sustainable and more economically competitive. Argyle Street has been identified as one the streets which will be re-designed.
All of this work clearly indicated the public realm at Anderston Station should be improved to take account of the issues that people and stakeholders had identified as well as the opportunities that the Avenues investment would bring. This created an opportunity to work with Bloomberg Philanthropies. Marrying public safety with public art, their programme provides cities with funding to transform unsightly streetscapes with community-involved design projects.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is collaborating with Glasgow City Council as host of the Climate Conference to help deliver a legacy for the city and its residents. Starting with an innovative Asphalt Art installation at the entrance of Anderston Station, Glasgow City Council is using art and community engagement to improve street safety, revitalise public space and engage local communities. In doing so Glasgow joins a select group of international cities supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies to transform and revitalise public spaces through the power of art.
While cities incorporate art into public spaces in a variety of ways, the focus of this initiative is what we’re calling asphalt art: visual interventions on roadways (junctions and crossing points), pedestrian spaces (plazas and pavements), and vertical infrastructure (utility boxes, traffic barriers, and underpasses).
The design team led by Civic Engineers and designer Gabriella Marcella have worked to improve the connection to and from the city centre as well as the sense of welcome and safety. The striking design, developed by Gabriella, was influenced by the introduction of an experimental raingarden on the site. As an attractive way to reduce flood risk and treat surface water runoff from the nearby M8, raingardens provide additional biodiversity and a greater sense of place to city centre streetscapes. This site is being monitored by the University of Glasgow to see what contribution it makes to water quality. This data will be used to build a case for the increased integration of raingardens in future developments.
Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr David McDonald, said, “The Council has been delighted to partner with the prestigious Bloomberg Philanthropies on our journey towards COP26. We’ve engaged in a range of discussions on areas of shared interest about the environment, arts and culture, and community involvement.
“One of the first fruits of this collaboration has been the innovative Asphalt Art installation, which puts Glasgow in a select group of cities supported by Bloomberg to transform and revitalise a public space through the power of art.
“There are other projects underway which will be revealed soon, with Glasgow also benefitting from connecting with some of the world’s biggest cities in the run up to and during COP through the C40 network, of which Michael Bloomberg is president. This partnership work is a direct benefit of our host city role and is already delivering a legacy for Glasgow and Glaswegians.”
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies said “Asphalt Art Projects can help cities rebuild from the pandemic by reinvigorating streets and making them safer, while also lifting spirits. As we’ve seen through our work in cities around the world, vibrant public artwork and smarter street design can inspire residents, build relationships between artists and the community, and help cities recover stronger than before.”
Designer Gabriella Marcella said “I'm delighted that the project is in its final stages, and the public have been able to see our work progress in real-time. It's been a challenging site to work across, but the giant graphics and colour have prevailed!
“I hope the finished work brings a smile to people's faces as they pass by, and encourages thoughts around water, and how we might rethink our relationship to it in our wonderful, and sometimes rainy, city!”
Isla Jackson, Director, Civic Engineers said, “This fantastic project helps to make this area a more inclusive, more climate resilient, safer place. It is a great example of true collaboration with the community and across industries, with everyone’s contributions focused on improving connectivity between the west end and the centre and ultimately helping to make our city healthier and more attractive.”
Meanwhile, around Anderston Station, it is hoped the completion of the artwork, addition of benches and raingardens will provide cheer to passengers and local alike as the city continues to re-open and recover from the pandemic.